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EDITOR'S   PREFACE 

James  Fenimore  Cooper  was  a  brilliant  story-teller  and 
a  great  writer,  but  he  was  also  a  tedious  moralist  and  a 
lover  of  detail.  His  novels,  written  in  a  period  when  six 
or  seven  hundred  pages  were  considered  only  a  reasonable 
allowance  for  an  author,  are  to-day  too  long«to  attract  young 
readers,  with  whom  his  adventurous  and  exciting  plots  and 
his  Indian  and  pioneer  characters  should  make  him  a 
favorite.  "  The  Deerslayer,"  the  first  of  the  Leatherstock- 
ing  Tales,  has  been  abridged  to  about  one  half  its  original 
length,  in  the  hope  that  it  may  inspire  enthusiasm  for  this 
great  American  author  among  boys  and  girls. 

The  Leatherstocking  Tales  are  Cooper's  most  distinctive 
and  original  work.  As  Professor  Bronson  has  well  said, 
"  He  was  the  creator  of  the  novel  of  Indian  adventure,  and 
his  followers  are  not  his  rivals."  His  poetic  instinct  enabled 
him  not  only  to  feel  but  to  make  his  readers  feel  the  won 
derful  romance  of  the  American  forest  and  of  its  Indian 
inhabitant,  who  was  being  gradually  driven  back  by  the 
relentless  onward  march  of  the  white  man.  He  saw  the 
charm  of  the  pioneer  spirit  at  its  best,  and  brought  it  out 
the  more  strongly  by  contrasting  it  with  the  selfish  and 
callous  instinct  for  gain  and  for  violence  that  sometimes 
went  with  it.  Most  of  all,  he  felt  the  harmony  between  the 
characters  of  the  forest  dwellers  and  the  wild,  unpeopled 

iii 

207603 


iy  THE  DEERSLAYER 

solitudes  through  which  they  roamed  ;  and  the  result  for 
his  readers  is  a  wonderful  succession  of  nature  descriptions. 

Cooper's  works  can  be  improved  rather  than  injured 
by  abridgment  because  he  carried  realism  to  an  extreme. 
In  the  present  novel,  for  instance,  he  undertakes  to  carry 
his  seven  characters  through  seven  nights  and  seven  days, 
and  never  to  lose  sight  of  one  for  a  moment.  If  one  is 
absent  for  a  few  minutes  on  some  errand  necessary  for 
the  progress  of  the  plot,  he  must,  on  his  return,  be  placed 
in  a  position  where  he  can  be  informed  by  another  of  what 
has  occurred  in  his  absence,  —  and  all  the  other  five  must 
be  occupied  in  some  appropriate  manner  during  the  inter 
val.  This  difficulty  the  editor  has  sought  to  obviate,  and  it 
has  been  a  pleasure  to  feel  that  as  the  work  progressed 
many  lines  of  the  picture  which  had  been  overlaid  by  a 
mass  of  explanatory  narrative  stood  out  in  more  bold  and 
striking  relief.  To  add  to  the  usefulness  of  this  volume 
in  the  schools,  the  editor  has  made  a  study  of  the  plot 
from  various  points  of  view,  which  will  be  found,  with 
other  matter,  in  the  Appendix. 

In  one  of  their  early  editions  Cooper's  novels  were 
illustrated  by  Darley,  who  also  illustrated,  at  about  the 
same  time,  Irving's  "  Sketch-Book "  and  Longfellow's 
"  Evangeline."  We  have  been  fortunate  in  being  able 
to  obtain  copies  of  these  and  other  rare  old  engravings, 
which  are  in  such  harmony  with  the  spirit  of  the  author. 

M.  F.  L. 
CAMBRIDGE,  MASSACHUSETTS 


LIST   OF    ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

PORTRAIT  OF  J.  FENIMORE  COOPER Frontispiece 

By  C.  L.  Elliott 

THE  DYING  INDIAN 94 

By  F.  O.  C.  Barley 

THE  OPENING  OF  THE  CHEST 162' 

By  F.  O.  C.  Barley 

THE  BURIAL  OF  HETTY  HUTTER 364 

By  J.  Hamilton 


fi-i. 

|  cj , 
THE  DEERSLAYER/^^ 

PART  I.   THE  SURPRISE 

7 

CHAPTER   I 

The  incidents  of  this  tale  occurred  between  the  years 
1740  and  1745,  when  the  settled  portions  of  the  colony 
of  New  York  were  confined  to  the  four  Atlantic  counties,  * 
a  narrow  belt  of  country  on  each  side  of  the  Hudson,  ex 
tending  from  its  mouth  to  the  falls  near  its  head,  and  to 
a  few  advanced  "  neighborhoods  "  on  the  Mohawk  and 
the  Schoharie.  Broad  belts  of  the  virgin  wilderness  not 
only  reached  the  shores  of  the  first  river,  but  they  even 
crossed  it,  stretching  away  into  New  England,  and  afford 
ing  forest  covers  to  the  noiseless  moccasin  of  the  native 
warrior,  as  he  trod  the  secret  and  bloody  warpath.  A 
bird's-eye  view  of  the  whole  region  of  New  York  State, 
west  of  the  Hudson  River,  must  then  have  offered  one 
vast  expanse  of  woods,  dotted  by  the  glittering  surfaces 
of  lakes,  and  intersected  by  the  waving  lines  of  rivers. 

It  was  in  such  a  vast  solitude,  where  centuries  of  sum-  ^L 
mer  suns  had  already  warmed  the  tops  of  the  noble  oaks       ^\ 
and  pines,  that  voices  were  heard  calling  to  each  other, 
in  the  depths  of  a  forest,  of  which  the  leafy  surface  lay 
bathed  in  the  brilliant  light  of  a  cloudless  day  in  June, 
while  the  trunks  of  the  trees  rose  in  gloomy  grandeur  in 


2  THE  DEERSLAYER 

the  shades  beneath.  The  calls  were  in  different  tones,  evi 
dently  proceeding  from  two  men  who  had  lost  their  way, 
and  were  searching  in  different  directions  for  their  path. 
At  length  a  shout  proclaimed  success,  and  presently  a  man 
of  gigantic  mould  broke  out  of  the  tangled  labyrinth  of  a 
small  swamp,  emerging  into  an  opening  that  appeared  to 
have  been  formed  partly  by  the  ravages  of  the  wind,  and 
partly  by  those  of  fire.  This  little  area,  which  afforded  a 
good  view  of  the  sky,  although  it  was  pretty  well  filled 
with  dead  trees,  lay  on  the  side  of  one  of  the  high  hills, 
or  low  mountains,  into  which  nearly  the  whole  surface  of 
the  adjacent  country  was  broken. 

"  Here  is  room  to  breathe  in !  "  exclaimed  the  liberated 
forester,  as  soon  as  he  found  himself  under  a  clear  sky, 
shaking  his  huge  frame  like  a  mastiff  that  has  just  escaped 
from  a  snowbank.  "  Hurrah,  Deerslayer !  here  is  daylight 
at  last,  and  yonder  is  the  lake." 

These  words  were  scarcely  uttered  when  the  second 
forester  dashed  aside  the  bushes  of  the  swamp,  and  ap 
peared  in  the  area.  After  making  a  hurried  adjustment  of 
his  arms  and  disordered  dress,  he  joined  his  companion, 
who  had  already  begun  his  preparations  for  a  halt. 

11  Do  you  know  this  spot  ?  "  demanded  the  one  called 
Deerslayer,  "or  do  you  shout  at  the  sight  of  the  sun  ?" 

"  Both,  lad,  both ;  I  know  the  spot,  and  am  not  sorry 
to  see  so  useful  a  friend  as  the  sun.  Now  we  have  got  the 
p'ints  of  the  compass  in  our  minds  once  more,  and  'twill 
be  our  own  faults  if  we  let  anything  turn  them  topsy-turvy 
ag'in,  as  has  just  happened.  My  name  is  not  Hurry  Harry, 
if  this  be  not  the  very  spot  where  the  land-hunters  'camped 
the  last  summer,  and  passed  a  week.  See  !  yonder  are  the 


THE  SURPRISE  3 

dead  bushes  of  their  bower,  and  here  is  the  spring.  Much 
as  I  like  the  sun,  boy,  I  've  no  occasion  for  it  to  tell  me 
it  is  noon  ;  this  stomach  of  mine  is  as  good  a  timepiece 
as  is  to  be  found  in  the  colony,  and  it  already  p'ints  to 
half-past  twelve.  So  open  the  wallet,  and  let  us  wind  up 
for  another  six  hours'  run." 

At  this  suggestion,  both  set  themselves  about  making 
the  preparations  necessary  for  their  usual  frugal  but  hearty 
meal.  We  will  profit  by  this  pause  to  give  the  reader  some 
idea  of  the  appearance  of  the  men,  each  of  whom  is  des 
tined  to  enact  no  insignificant  part  in  our  legend.  It  would 
not  have  been  easy  to  find  a  more  noble  specimen  of  vigor 
ous  manhood  than  was  offered  in  the  person  of  him  who 
called  himself  Hurry  Harry.  His  real  name  was  Henry 
Mar^h  ;  but  the  frontiersmen  having  caught  the  practice 
of  giving  sobriquets  from  the  Indians,  the  appellation  of 
Hurry  was  far  oftener  applied  to  him,  and  not  unfrequently 
he  was  termed  Hurry  Skurry,  a  nickname  he  had  obtained 
from  a  dashing,  reckless,  offhand  manner,  and  a  physical 
restlessness  that  kept  him  constantly  on  the  move.  His 
stature  exceeded  six  feet  four,  and  being  unusually  well 
proportioned,  his  strength  fully  realized  the  idea  created 
by  his  gigantic  frame.  His  face  was  both  good-humored 
and  handsome,  and  he  had  a  bold,  free  air  of  independ 
ence,  that  bordered  on  insolence. 

Deerslayer,  as  Hurry  called  his  companion,  was  a  very 
different  person  in  appearance,  as  well  as  in  character.  In 
stature  he  stood  about  six  feet  in  his  moccasins,  but  his 
frame  was  comparatively  light  and  slender,  showing  mus 
cles,  however,  that  promised  unusual  agility,  if  not  unusual 
strength.  His  face  would  have  had  little  to  recommend  it 


4  THE  DEERSLAYER 

except  youth,  were  it  not  for  an  expression  that  seldom 
failed  to  win  thq  confidence  of  those  with  whom  he  came 
in  contact.  This  expression  was  simply  that  of  guileless 
truth,  sustained  by  an  earnestness  of  purpose,  and  a  sin 
cerity  of  feeling,  that  rendered  it  remarkable. 

Both  these  frontier-men  were  still  young,  Hurry  having 
reached  the  age  of  six  or  eight  and  twenty,  while  Deer- 
slayer  was  several  years  his  junior.  Their  attire  needs  no 
particular  description,  though  it  may  be  well  to  add  that  it 
was  composed  in  no  small  degree  of  dressed  deerskins. 
There  was,  notwithstanding,  some  attention  to  smartness 
and  the  picturesque  in  the  arrangements  of  Deerslayer's 
dress,  more  particularly  in  the  part  connected  with  his  arms 
and  accoutrements.  His  rifle  was  in  perfect  condition,  the 
handle  of  his  hunting-knife  was  neatly  carved,  his  powder- 
horn  was  ornamented  with  suitable  devices  lightly  cut  into 
the  material,  and  his  shot-pouch  was  decorated. with  wam 
pum.  On  the  other  hand,  Hurry  Harry  wore  everything 
in  a  careless,  slovenly  manner,  as  if  he  felt  a  noble  scorn 
for  the  trifling  accessories  of  dress  and  ornaments. 

11  Come,  Deerslayer,  fall  to,  and  prove  that  you  have  a 
Delaware  stomach,  as  you  say  you  have  had  a  Delaware 
edication,"  cried  Hurry,  setting  the  example  by  opening 
his  mouth  to  receive  a  huge  slice  of  cold  venison  steak ; 
"  fall  to,  lad,  and  prove  your  manhood  on  this  poor  devil 
of  a  doe  with  your  teeth,  as  you  've  already  done  with 
your  rifle." 

"  Nay,  nay,  Hurry,  there  's  little  manhood  in  killing  a 
doe,  and  that  too  out  of  season,"  returned  the  other,  dis 
posing  himself  to  comply.  "The  Delawares  have  given 
me  my  name,  not  so  much  on  account  of  a  bold  heart,  as 


THE  SURPRISE  5 

on  account  of  a  quick  eye  and  an  active  foot.  There  may 
not  be  any  cowardice  in  overcoming  a  deer,  but  sartain  it 
is  there  's  no  great  valor." 

"  The  Delawares  themselves  are  no  heroes,"  muttered 
Hurry  through  his  teeth,  the  mouth  being  too  full  to  per 
mit  it  to  be  fairly  opened,  "  or  they  would  never  have 
allowed  them  loping  vagabonds,  the  Mingos,  to  make 
them  women." 

"  That  matter  is  not  rightly  understood  —  has  never 
been  rightly  explained,"  said  Deerslayer  earnestly;  "the 
Mingos  fill  the  woods  with  their  lies,  and  misconstruct 
words  and  treaties.  I  have  now  lived  ten  years  with  the 
Delawares,  and  know  them  to  be  as  manful  as  any  other 
nation,  when  the  proper  time  to  strike  comes." 

"  Harkee,  Master  Deerslayer,  since  we  are  on  the  sub 
ject,  we  may  as  well  open  our  minds  to  each  other  in  a 
man-to-man  way  ;  answer  me  one  question,  —  you  have  had 
so  much  luck  among  the  game  as  to  have  gotten  a  title,  it 
would  seem,  but  did  you  ever  hit  anything  human  or  in 
telligible  ;  did  you  ever  pull  trigger  on  an  inimy  that  was 
capable  of  pulling  one  upon  you  ?  " 

"To  own  the  truth,  I  never  did,"  answered  Deerslayer 
after  a  moment's  hesitation  ;  "  seeing  that  a  fitting  occa 
sion  never  offered.  The  Delawares  have  been  peaceable 
since  my  sojourn  with  'em,  and  I  hold  it  to  be  onlaw- 
ful  to  take  the  life  of  man,  except  in  open  and  generous 
warfare." 

^"  What !  did  you  never  find  a  fellow  thieving  among 
your  traps  and  skins,  and  do  the  law  on  him  with  your 
own  hands,  by  way  of  saving  the  magistrates  trouble  in 
the  settlements,  and  the  rogue  himself  the  cost  of  the  suit  ?  " 


6  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"I  am  no  trapper,  Hurry,"  returned  the  young  man 
proudly  ;  "I  live  by  the  rifle,  a  we'pon  at  which  I  will 
not  turn  my  back  on  any  man  of  my  years,  atween  the 
Hudson  and  the  St.  Lawrence.  I  never  offer  a  skin  that 
has  not  a  hole  in  its  head  besides  them  which  natur'  made 
to  see  with  or  to  breathe  through." 

''Aye,  aye,  this  is  all  very  well,  in  the  animal  way, 
though  it  makes  but  a  poor  figure  alongside  of  scalps  and 
ambushes.  Shooting  an  Indian  from  an  ambush  is  acting 
up  to  his  own  principles,  and  now  we  have  what  you  call 
a  lawful  war  on  our  hands,  the  sooner  you  wipe  that  dis 
grace  off  your  character,  the  sounder  will  be  your  sleep ; 
if  it  only  come  from  knowing  there  is  one  inimy  the  less 
prowling  in  the  woods.  I  shall  not  frequent  your  society 
long,  friend  Natty,  unless  you  look  higher  than  four-footed 
beasts  to  practise  your  rifle  on." 

"  Our  journey  is  nearly  ended,  you  say,  Master  March, 
and  we  can  part  to-night,  if  you  see  occasion.  I  have  a 
fri'nd  waiting  for  me,  who  will  think  it  no  disgrace  to 
consort  with  a  fellow-creatur'  that  has  never  yet  slain  his 
kind." 

"  I  wish  I  knew  what  has  brought  that  skulking  Dela 
ware  into  this  part  of  the  country  so  early  in  the  season," 
muttered  Hurry  to  himself,  in  a  way  to  show  equally  dis 
trust  and  a  recklessness  of  its  betrayal.  "  Where  did  you 
say  the  young  chief  was  to  give  you  the  meeting  ?  " 

"  At  a  small  round  rock,  near  the  foot  of  the  lake, 
where,  they  tell  me,  the  tribes  are  given  to  resorting  to 
make  their  treaties,  and  to  bury  their  hatchets.  This  rock 
have  I  often  heard  the  Delawares  mention,  though  lake 
and  rock  are  equally  strangers  to  me.  The  country  is 


THE  SURPRISE  7 

claimed  by  both  Mingos  and  Mohicans,  and  is  a  sort  of 
common  territory  to  fish  and  hunt  through,  in  time  of 
peace,  though  what  it  may  become  in  war-time  the  Lord 
only  knows !  " 

"  Common  territory !  "  exclaimed  Hurry,  laughing  aloud. 
"  I  should  like  to  know  what  T^W^ing  Tr>m  Hutt^r  would 
say  to  that  ?  He  claims  the  lake  as  his  own  property,  in 
vartue  of  fifteen  years'  possession  ;  and  what  Tom  claims, 
he  '11  be  very  likely  to  maintain." 

\^)By  what  I  've  heard  you  say  in  years  past,  this  Float 
ing  Tom  must  be  an  oncommon  mortal.  What 's  the 
man's  history  and  natur'  ?  " 

£T  Why,  as  to  old  Tom's  human  natur',  it  is  not  much 
like  other  men's  human  natur',  but  more  like  a  muskrat's 
human  natur',  seeing  that  he  takes  more  to  the  ways 
of  that  animal  than  to  the  ways  of  any  other  fellow- 
creatur'.  Some  think  he  was  a  free  liver  on  the  salt 
water,  in  his  youth,  and  a  companion  of  a  sartain  Kidd, 
who  was  hanged  for  piracy,  long  afore  you  and  I  were 
born,  and  that  he  came  up  into  these  regions,  thinking 
that  the  king's  cruisers  could  never  cross  the  moun 
tains,  and  that  he  might  enjoy  the  plunder  peaceably 
in  the  woods ;  and  he  enjoys  it,  too,  if  plunder  he 
has  really  got,  with  his  darters,  in  a  very  quiet  and 
comfortable  way." 

"  Aye,  he  has  darters,  too ;  I  've  heard  the  Delawares, 
who  've  hunted  this-a-way,  tell  their  histories  of  these 
young  women.  Is  there  no  mother,  Hurry  ? " 

"  She  has  been  dead  these  two  good  years,  but  it 's 
recommend  enough  to  one  woman  to  be  the  mother  of 
such  a  creatur'  as  her  darter,  Judith  Huttej !  " 


8  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"Aye,  Judith  was  the  name  the  Delawares  mentioned, 
though  it  was  pronounced  after  a  fashion  of  their  own. 
From  their  discourse,  I  do  not  think  the  girl  would  much 
please  my  fancy." 

"  Thy  fancy  !  "  exclaimed  March,  taking  fire  equally  at 
the  indifference  and  at  the  presumption  of  his  companion, 
"  what  the  devil  have  you  to  do  with  a  fancy,  and  that, 
too,  consarning  one  like  Judith  ?  You  are  but  a  boy  —  a 
sapling,  that  has  scarce  got  root.  Judith  has  had  men 
among  her  suitors  ever  since  she  was  fifteen,  which  is 
now  near  five  years  ;  and  will  not  be  apt  even  to  cast  a 
look  upon  a  half -grown  creatur'  like  you  !  " 

"It  is  June,  and  there  is  not  a  cloud  atween  us  and 
the  sun,  Hurry,  so  all  this  heat  is  not  wanted,"  answered 
the  other,  altogether  undisturbed;  "any  one  may  have  a 
fancy,  and  a  squirrel  has  a  right  to  make  up  his  mind 
touching  a  catamount." 

"  Aye,  but  it  might  not  be  wise,  always,  to  let  the  cata 
mount  know  it,"  growled  March.  "  But  you  're  young 
and  thoughtless,  and  I  '11  overlook  your  ignorance.  Come, 
Deerslayer,"  he  added,  with  a  good-natured  laugh,  "  we 
are  sworn  fri'nds,  and  will  not  quarrel  about  a  light- 
minded,  jilting  jade,  just  because  she  happens  to  be 
handsome  ;  more  especially  *as  you  have  never  seen  her. 
Judith  is  only  for  a  man  whose  teeth  show  the  full 
marks,  and  it's  foolish  to  be  afeard  of  a  boy.  What 
did  the  Delawares  say  of  the  hussy  ?  for  an  Indian,  ^ 
after  all,  has  his  notions  of  woman-kind,  •  as  well  as  a 
white  man." 

"  They  said  she  was  fair  to  look  on,  and  pleasant  of 
speech  ;  but  over-given  to  admirers,  and  light-minded  ' 


THE  SURPRISE  9 

"  They  are  devils  incarnate  !  Now  that 's  Judith's  char 
acter  to  a  ribbon  !  To  own  the  truth  to  you,  Deerslayer,  I 
should  have  married  the  gal  two  years  since,  if  it  had  not 
been  for  two  particular  things,  one  of  which  was  this  very 
light-mindedness." 

"  And  what  may  have  been  the  other  ?  "  demanded  the 
hunter,  who  continued  to  eat  like  one  that  took  very  little 
interest  in  the  subject. 

"  T'  other  was  an  insartainty  about  her  having  me. 
The  hussy  is  handsome,  and  she  knows  it.  Boy,  not  a 
tree  that  is  growing  in  these  hills  is  straighter,  or  waves 
in  the  wind  with  an  easier  bend,  nor  did  you  ever  see  the 
doe  that  bounded  with  a  more  nat'ral  motion.  But  her 
behavior  has  been  such  that  sometimes  I  swear  I  '11  never 
visit  the  .lake  ag'in." 

"  Which  is  the  reason  that  you  always  come  back  ?  " 

"  Ah,  Deerslayer,  if  you  know'd  all  that  I  know  con- 
sarning  Judith,  you  'd  find  a  justification  for  a  little  cussing. 
Now,  the  officers  sometimes  stray  over  to  the  lake,  from 
the  forts  on  the  Mohawk,  to  fish  and  hunt,  and  then  the 
creatur'  seems  beside  herself  !  You  can  see  it  in  the  man 
ner  in  which  she  wears  her  finery,  and  the  airs  she  gives 
herself  with  the  gallants." 

"  That  is  unseemly  in  a  poor  man's  darter,"  returned 
Deerslayer  gravely,  ' '  the  officers  are  all  gentry,  and  can 
only  look  on  such  as  Judith  with  evil  intentions." 

"  There  's  the  unsartainty,  and  the  damper  !  The  clouds 
that  drive  among  these  hills  are  not  more  unsartain.  Not 
a  dozen  white  men  have  ever  laid  eyes  upon  her  since  she 
was  a  child,  and  yet  her  airs,  with  two  or  three  of  these 
officers,  are  extinguishers !  Could  I  bring  my  mind  to  be 


10  THE  DEERSLAYER 

easy  about  the  officers,  I  would  carry  the  gal  off  to  the 
Mohawk  by  force,  make  her  marry  me  in  spite  of  her 
whiffling,  and  leave  old  Tom  to  the  care  of  Hetty,  his 
other  child,  who,  if  she  be  not  as  handsome  or  as  quick 
witted  as  her  sister,  is  much  the  more  dutiful." 

"Is  there  another  bird  in  the  same  nest  ?  "  asked  Deer- 
slayer.  "  The  Delawares  spoke  to  me  only  of  one." 

"  That 's  nat'ral  enough,  for  while  poor  Hetty  is  comely, 
she  is  at  the  best  what  I  call  on  the  varge  of  ignorance, 
and  sometimes  she  stumbles  on  one  side  of  the  line,  and 
sometimes  on  t'  other." 

"  Them  are  beings  that  the  Lord  has  in  his  'special 
care,"  said  Deerslayer  solemnly;  "for  He  looks  carefully 
to  all  who  fall  short  of  their  proper  share  of  reason.  The 
redskins  honor  and  respect  them  who  are  so  gifted,  know 
ing  that  the  Evil  Spirit  delights  more  to  dwell  in  an  artful 
body,  than  in  one  that  has  no  cunning  to  work  upon." 

"  I  '11  answer  for  it,  then,  that  he  will  not  remain  long 
with  poor  Hetty.  Yet  old  Tom  has  a  feeling  for  the  gal, 
and  so  has  Judith,  quick-witted  and  glorious  as  she  is 
herself,  and,  harkee,  Deerslayer,  —  you  know  what  the 
hunters,  and  trappers,  and  peltry-men  in  general  be  ;  and 
their  best  friends  will  not  deny  that  they  are  headstrong 
and  given  to  having  their  own  way,  without  much  bethink 
ing  'em  of  other  people's  rights  or  feelin's,  —  and  yet  I 
don't  think  the  man  is  to  be  found,  in  all  this  region,  who 
would  harm  Hetty  Hutter,  if  he  could ;  no,  not  even  a 
redskin." 

11 1  rejoice  to  hear  it,  fri'nd  Hurry,  I  rejoice  to  hear  what 
you  say ;  but  as  the  sun  is  beginning  to  turn  towards  the 
a'ternoon's  sky,  had  we  not  better  strike  the  trail  ag'in, 


THE  SURPRISE  II 

and  make  forward,  that  we  may  get  an  opportunity  of 
seeing  these  wonderful  sisters  ?  " 

Harry  March  giving  a  cheerful  assent,  the  remnants  of 
the  meal  were  soon  collected ;  then  the  travelers  shouldered 
their  packs,  resumed  their  arms,  and,  quitting  the  little  area 
of  light,  they  again  plunged  into  the  deep  shadows  of  the 
forest. 

CHAPTER  II 

• 

Our  two  adventurers  had  not  far  to  go.  Hurry  knew 
the  direction,  as  soon  as  he  had  found  the  open  spot  and 
the  spring,  and  he  now  led  the  way.  The  forest  was  dark, 
but  it  was  no  longer  obstructed  by  underbrush,  and  the 
footing  was  firm  and  dry.  After  proceeding  near  a  mile, 
March  stopped,  and  began  to  cast  about  him  with  an 
inquiring  look,  examining  the  different  objects  with  care, 
and  occasionally  turning  his  eyes  on  the  trunks  of  the 
fallen  trees,  with  which  the  ground  was  well  sprinkled. 

"  This  must  be  the  place,  Deerslayer,"  March  at  length 
observed ;  "  here  is  a  beech  by  the  side  of  a  hemlock, 
with  three  pines  at  hand,  and  yonder  is  a  white  birch 
with  a  broken  top ;  and  yet  I  see  no  rock,  nor  any  of  the 
branches  bent  down,  as  I  told  you  would  be  the  case." 

"  Broken  branches  are  onskillful  landmarks,  as  the  least 
exper'enced  know  that  branches  don't  often  break  of  them 
selves,"  returned  the  other;  "and  they  also  lead  to  sus 
picion  and  discoveries.  The  Delawares  never  trust  to 
broken  branches,  unless  it  is  in  friendly  times,  and  on  an 
open  trail.  As  for  the  beeches,  and  pines,  and  hemlocks, 
why,  they  are  to  be  seen  on  all  sides  of  us,  not  only  by 
twos  and  threes,  but  by  forties  and  fifties  and  hundreds." 


12  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"Very  true,  Deerslayer,  but  you  never  calculate  on 
position.  Here  is  a  beech  and  a  hemlock  — 

"Yes,  and  there  is  another  beech  and  a  hemlock,  as 
loving  as  two  brothers  ;  and  yonder  are  others,  for  neither 
tree  is  a  rarity  in  these  woods.  I  fear  me,  Hurry,  you  are 
better  at  trapping  beaver  and  shooting  bears,  than  at  lead 
ing  on  a  blindish  sort  of  a  trail.  Ha !  there  's  what  you 
wish  to  find,  a'ter  all !  " 

"  Now,  Deerslayer,  this  is  one  of  your  Delaware  pre 
tensions,  for  hang  me  if  I  see  anything  but  these  trees, 
which  do  seem  to  start  up  around  us  in  a  most  onaccount- 
able  and  perplexing  manner." 

"  Look  this-a-way,  Hurry  —  here,  in  a  line  with  the 
black  oak  —  don't  you  see  the  crooked  sapling  that  is 
hooked  up  in  the  branches  of  the  bass-wood,  near  it  ? 
Now  that  sapling  was  once  snow-ridden,  and  got  the 
bend  by  its  weight ;  but  it  never  straightened  itself, 
and  fastened  itself  in  among  the  bass-wood  branches 
in  the  way  you  see.  The  hand  of  man  did  that  act 
of  kindness  for  it." 

"  That  hand  was  mine  !  "  exclaimed  Hurry  ;  "I  found 
the  slender  young  thing  bent  to  the  airth,  like  an  unfor 
tunate  creatur'  borne  down  by  misfortune,  and  stuck  it  up 
where  you  see  it.  After  all,  Deerslayer,  I  must  allow, 
you  're  getting  to  have  an  oncommon  good  eye  for  the 
woods !  " 

1  'T  is  improving,  Hurry  —  't  is  improving,  I  will  ac 
knowledge  ;  but  't  is  only  a  child's  eye,  compared  to  some 
I  know.  There  's  Tamenund,  now,  though  a  man  so  old 
that  few  remember  when  he  was  in  his  prime,  Tamenund 
lets  nothing  escape  his  look,  which  is  more  like  the  scent 


THE  SURPRISE  13 

of  a  hound  than  the  sight  of  an  eye.  Then  Uncas,  the 
father  of  Chingachgook,  and  the  lawful  chief  of  the 
Mohicans,  is  another  that  it  is  almost  hopeless  to  pass 
unseen." 

"  And  who  is  this  Chingachgook,  of  whom  you  talk  so 
much,  Deerslayer?"  asked  Hurry,  as  he  moved  off  in 
the  direction  of  the  righted  sapling ;  "a  loping  redskin, 
at  the  best,  I  make  no  question." 

"Not  so,  Hurry,  but  the  best  of  loping  redskins,  as  you 
call  'em.  If  he  had  his  rights,  he  would  be  a  great  chief ; 
but,  as  it  is,  he  is  only  a  brave  and  just-minded  Delaware ; 
respected,  and  even  obeyed  in  some  things,  'tis  true,  but 
of  a  fallen  race,  and  belonging  to  a  fallen  people.  Ah ! 
Harry  March,  'twould  warm  the  heart  within  you  to  sit 
in  their  lodges  of  a  winter's  night,  and  listen  to  the  tradi 
tions  of  the  ancient  greatness  and  power  of  the  Mohicans  ! 
But  see  ;  this  is  the  spot  you  come  to  find." 

This  remark  cut  short  the  discourse,  and  both  the  men 
now  gave  all  their  attention  to  the  object  immediately 
before  them.  Deerslayer  pointed  out  to  his  companion 
the  trunk  of  a  huge  linden,  or  bass-wood,  which  had  filled 
its  time,  and  fallen  by  its  own  weight.  This  tree,  like  so 
many  millions  of  its  brethren,  lay  where  it  had  fallen,  and 
was  mouldering  under  the  slow  but  certain  influence  of 
the  seasons.  The  decay,  however,  had  attacked  its  centre, 
even  while  it  stood  erect  in  the  pride  of  vegetation,  hol 
lowing  out  its  heart,  as  disease  sometimes  destroys  the 
vitals  of  animal  life,  even  while  a  fair  exterior  is  pre 
sented  to  the  observer.  As  the  trunk  lay  stretched  for 
near  a  hundred  feet  along  the  earth,  the  quick  eye  of 
the  hunter  detected  this  peculiarity,  and,  from  this  and 


14  THE  DEERSLAYER 

other  circumstances,  he  knew  it  to  be  the  tree  of  which 
March  was  in  search. 

"Aye,  here  we  have  what  we  want,"  cried  Hurry,  look 
ing  in  at  the  larger  end  of  the  linden  ;  "  everything  is  as 
snug  as  if  it  had  been  left  in  an  old  woman's  cupboard. 
Come,  lend  me  a  hand,  Deerslayer,  and  we  '11  be  afloat  in 
half  an  hour." 

Hurry  removed  some  pieces  of  bark  that  lay  before  the 
large  opening  in  the  tree,  and  the  two  then  drew  out  a 
bark  canoe,  containing  seats,  paddles,  and  other  appliances, 
even  to  fishing  lines  and  rods.  This  vessel  was  by  no 
means  small ;  but  such  was  its  comparative  lightness,  and 
so  gigantic  was  the  strength  of  Hurry,  that  the  latter 
shouldered  it  with  seeming  ease,  declining  all  assistance, 
even  in  the  act  of  raising  it  to  the  awkward  position  in 
which  he  was  obliged  to  hold  it. 

"  Lead  ahead,  Deerslayer,"  said  March,  "and  open  the 
bushes  ;  the  rest  I  can  do  for  myself." 

The  other  obeyed,  and  the  men  left  the  spot,  Deer- 
slayer  clearing  the  way  for  his  companion.  In  about  ten 
minutes  they  both  broke  suddenly  into  the  brilliant  light 
of  the  sun,  on  a  low  gravelly  point,  that  was  washed  by 
water  on  quite  half  its  outline. 

An  exclamation  of  surprise  broke  from  the  lips  of 
Deerslayer,  an  exclamation  that  was  low  and  guardedly 
made,  however,  for  his  habits  were  much  more  thought 
ful  and  regulated  than  those  of  the  reckless  Hurry,  when, 
on  reaching  the  margin  of  the  lake,  he  beheld  the  view 
that  unexpectedly  met  his  gaze.  It  was,  in  truth,  suffi 
ciently  striking  to  merit  a  brief  description.  On  a  level 
with  the  point  lay  a  broad  sheet  of  water,  so  placid  and 


THE  SURPRISE  15 

limpid  that  it  resembled  a  bed  of  the  pure  mountain 
atmosphere,  compressed  into  a  setting  of  hills  and  woods. 
Its  length  was  about  three  leagues,  while  its  breadth  was 
irregular,  expanding  to  half  a  league,  or  even  more,  oppo 
site  to  the  point,  and  contracting  to  less  than  half  that 
distance,  more  to  the  southward.  Of  course,  its  margin 
was  irregular,  being  indented  by  bays,  and  broken  by 
many  projecting,  low  points.  At  its  northern,  or  nearest 
end,  it  was  bounded  by  an  isolated  mountain,  lower  land 
falling  off  east  and  west,  gracefully  relieving  the  sweep  of 
the  outline.  Still  the  character  of  the  country  was  moun 
tainous  ;  high  hills,  or  low  mountains,  rising  abruptly  from 
the  water,  on  quite  nine  tenths  of  its  circuit;  and  even 
beyond  the  parts  of  the  shore  that  were  comparatively  low, 
the  background  was  high,  though  more  distant. 

But  the  most  striking  peculiarities  of  this  scene  were 
its  solemn  solitude  and  sweet  repose.  On  all  sides,  wher 
ever  the  eye  turned,  nothing  met  it  but  the  mirror-like 
surface  of  the  lake,  the  placid  view  of  heaven,  and  the 
dense  setting  of  woods.  So  rich  and  fleecy  were  the  out 
lines  of  the  forest,  that  scarce  an  opening  could  be  seen, 
the  whole  visible  earth,  from  the  rounded  mountain-top  to 
the  water's  edge,  presenting  one  unvaried  hue  of  unbroken 
verdure.  As  if  vegetation -were  not  satisfied  with  a  triumph 
so  complete,  the  trees  overhung  the  lake  itself ;  and  the 
whole  scene  lay  bathed  in  the  sunlight,  a  glorious  picture 
of  affluent  forest  grandeur,  softened  by  the  balminess  of 
June,  and  relieved  by  the  beautiful  variety  afforded  by  the 
presence  of  so  broad  an  expanse  of  water. 

"  This  is  grand  !  —  't  is  solemn  !  —  'tis  an  edication  of 
itself,  to  look  upon  !  "  exclaimed  Deerslayer,  as  he  stood 


1 6  THE  DEERSLAYER 

leaning  on  his  rifle,  and  gazed  about ;  ' '  not  a  tree  dis- 
,  turbed  even  by  redskin  hand,  as  I  can  discover,  but  every 
thing  left  in  the  ordering  of  the  Lord,  to  live  and  die 
'  \  according  to  his  own  designs  and  laws !  But  what  is  this 
I  see  off  here,  abreast  of  us,  that  seems  too  small  for  an 
island,  and  too  large  for  a  boat,  though  it  stands  in  the 
midst  of  the  water?  " 

"Why,  that  is  what  these  gallanting  gentry,  from  the 
forts,  call  Muskrat  Castle.  'T  is  old  Tom's  stationary 
house,  there  being  two ;  this,  which  never  moves,  and 
the  other,  that  floats,  being  sometimes  in  one  part  of  the 
lake  and  sometimes  in  another.  The  last  goes  by  the 
name  of  the  ark ;  't  is  down  south,  no  doubt,  or  anchored 
in  some  of  the  bays.  But  the  canoe  is  ready,  and  fifteen 
minutes  will  carry  two  such  paddles  as  yourn  and  mine 
to  the  castle." 

At  this  suggestion,  Deerslayer  helped  his  companion 
to  place  the  different  articles  in  the  canoe,  which  was 
already  afloat.  This  was  no  sooner  done  than  the  two 
frontier-men  embarked,  and  by  a  vigorous  push  sent  the 
light  bark  some  eight  or  ten  rods  from  the  shore.  Hurry 
now  took  the  seat  in  the  stern,  while  Deerslayer  placed 
himself  forward,  and  by  leisurely  but  steady  strokes  of  the 
paddles,  the  canoe  glided  across  the  placid  sheet,  towards 
the  extraordinary-looking  structure  that  the  former  had 
styled  Muskrat  Castle.  Several  times  the  men  ceased 
paddling,  and  looked  about  them  at  the  scene,  as  new 
glimpses  opened  from  behind  points,  enabling  them  to 
see  further  down  the  lake,  or  to  get  broader  views  of  the 
wooded  mountains. 

"This    is   a    sight   to   warm    the    heart!"    exclaimed 


THE  SURPRISE  17 

Deerslayer,  when  they  had  thus  stopped  for  the  fourth 
or  fifth  time;  "the  lake  seems  made  to  let  us  get  an 
insight  into  the  noble  forests ;  and  land  and  water  alike 
stand  in  the  beauty  of  God's  providence !  Right  glad 
am  I  that  Chingachgook  app'inted  our  meeting  on  this 
lake,  for  hitherto  eye  of  mine  never  looked  on  such  a 
glorious  spectacle." 

"  That 's  because  you  've  kept  so  much  among  the  Dela- 
wares,  in  whose  country  there  are  no  lakes.  Now,  farther 
north  and  farther  west  these  bits  of  water  abound ;  and 
you  're  young,  and  may  yet  live  to  see  'em." 

"  Have  the  governor's  or  the  king's  people  given  this 
lake  a  name  ?  "  asked  Deerslayer  suddenly,  as  if  struck 
with  a  new  idea.  "  If  they  Ve  not  begun  to  blaze  their 
trees,  and  set  up  their  compasses,  and  line  off  their  maps, 
it 's  likely  they  've  not  bethought  them  to  disturb  natur' 
with  a  name." 

"  They've  not  got  to  that,  yet,"  replied  Hurry,  "though 
the  last  time  I  went  in  with  skins,  one  of  the  king's  sur 
veyors  was  questioning  me  consarning  all  the  region 
hereabouts." 

"  I  'm  glad  it  has  no  name,"  resumed  Deerslayer,  "  or, 
at  least,  no  paleface  name ;  for  their  christenings  always 
foretell  waste  and  destruction.  No  doubt,  hows 'ever,  the 
redskins  have  their  modes  of  knowing  it,  and  the  hunters 
and  trappers,  too ;  they  are  likely  to  call  the  place  by 
something  reasonable  and  resembling." 

"As  for  the  tribes,"  continued  Hurry,  "each  has  its 
own  tongue,  and  its  own  way  of  calling  things ;  and  they 
treat  this  part  of  the  world  just  as  they  treat  all  others. 
Among  ourselves,  we  've  got  to  calling  the  place  the 


1 8  THE  DEERSLAYER 

'  Glimmerglass, '  seeing  that  its  whole  basin  is  so  often 
fringed  with  pines,  cast  upward  from  its  face ;  as  if  it 
would  throw  back  the  hills  that  hang  over  it." 

"  Aye,  that  is  a  good  name,"  replied  Deerslayer  thought 
fully.  "  Glimmerglass  !  it  has  a  pleasant  sound  to  the  ear. 
I  '11  warrant  it  was  your  fair  Judith  who  thought  of  that 
pretty  conceit." 

Both  now  pulled  vigorously  until  they  got  within  a  hun 
dred  yards  of  the  "  castle."  This  singular  edifice,  which 
had  been  facetiously  named  Muskrat  Castle,  stood  in  the 
open  lake,  at  a  distance  of  fully  a  quarter  of  a  mile  from 
the  nearest  shore.  On  every  other  side  the  water  extended 
much  farther,  the  precise  position  being  distant  about  two 
miles  from  the  northern  end  of  the  sheet,  and  nearly,  if 
not  quite,  a  mile  from  its  eastern  shore.  As  there  was  not 
the  smallest  appearance  of  any  island,  but  the  house  stood 
on  piles  with  the  water  flowing  beneath  it,  and  Deerslayer 
had  already  discovered  that  the  lake  was  of  a  great  depth, 
he  was  fain  to  ask  an  explanation  of  this  singular  circum 
stance.  Hurry  solved  the  difficulty  by  telling  him  that  on 
this  spot  alone,  a  long,  narrow  shoal,  which  extended  for 
a  few  hundred  yards  in  a  north  and  south  direction,  rose 
within  six  or  eight  feet  of  the  surface  of  the  lake,  and  that 
Hutter  had  driven  piles  into  it,  and  placed  his  habitation 
on  them,  for  the  purpose  of  security. 

"  The  old  fetov  was  burnt  out  three  times,  atween  the 
Indians  and  the  hunters ;  and  in  one  affray  with  the  red 
skins  he  lost  his  only  son,  since  which  time  he  has  taken 
to  the  water  for  safety.  No  one  can  attack  him  here, 
without  coming  in  a  boat,  and  the  plunder  and  scalps 
would  scarce  be  worth  the  trouble  of  digging  out  canoes. 


THE  SURPRISE  19 

Then  it 's  by  no  means  sartain  which  would  whip  in  such 
a  scrimmage,  for  old  Tom  is  well  supplied  with  arms  and 
ammunition,  and  the  castle,  as  you  may  see,  is  a  tight 
breastwork  agin  light  shot." 

Deerslayer  had  some  theoretical  knowledge  of  frontier 
warfare,  and  he  saw  that  Hurry  did  not  overrate  the 
strength  of  this  position,  since  it  would  not  be  easy  to 
attack  it  without  exposing  the  assailants  to  the  fire  of  the 
besieged.  A  good  deal  of  art  had  also  been  manifested  in 
the  disposition  of  the  timber  of  which  the  building  was 
constructed  and  which  afforded  a  protection  much  greater 
than  was  usual  to  the  ordinary  log-cabins  of  the  frontier. 
The  sides  and  ends  were  composed  of  the  trunks  of  large 
pines,  cut  about  nine  feet  long,  and  placed  upright,  instead 
of  being  laid  horizontally,  as  was  the  practice  of  the  coun 
try.  These  logs  were  squared  on  three  sides,  and  had 
large  tenons  on  each  end.  Massive  sills  were  secured  on 
the  heads  of  the  piles,  with  suitable  grooves  dug  out  of 
their  upper  surfaces,  which  had  been  squared  for  the  pur 
pose,  and  the  lower  tenons  of  the  upright  pieces  were 
placed  in  these  grooves,  giving  them  a  secure  fastening 
below.  Plates  had  been  laid  on  the  upper  ends  of  the 
upright  logs,  and  were  kept  in  their  places  by  a  similar 
contrivance ;  the  several  corners  of  he  structure  being 
well  fastened  by  scarfing  and  pinning  ch^  sills  and  plates. 
The  floors  were  made  of  smaller  logs,  similarly  squared, 
and  the  roof  was  composed  of  light  poles,  firmly  united, 
and  well  covered  with  bark.  The  effect  of  this  ingenious 
arrangement  was  to  give  its  owner  a  house  that  could  be 
approached  only  by  water,  the  sides  of  which  were  com 
posed  of  logs  closely  wedged  together,  which  were  two 


20  THE  DEERSLAYER 

feet  thick  in  their  thinnest  parts,  and  which  could  be 
separated  only  by  a  deliberate  and  laborious  use  of  human 
hands,  or  by  the  slow  operation  of  time.  The  outer  sur 
face  of  the  building  was  rude  and  uneven,  the  logs  being 
of  unequal  sizes ;  but  the  squared  surfaces  within  gave 
both  the  sides  and  floor  as  uniform  an  appearance  as  was 
desired,  either  for  use  or  show.  The  chimney  was  not  the 
least  singular  portion  of  the  castle,  as  Hurry  made  his 
companion  observe,  while  he  explained  the  process  by 
which  it  had  been  made.  The  material  was  a  stiff  clay, 
properly  worked,  which  had  been  put  together  in  a  mould 
of  sticks,  and  suffered  to  harden,  a  foot  or  two  at  a  time, 
commencing  at  the  bottom.  When  the  entire  chimney 
had  thus  been  raised,  and  had  been  properly  bound  in 
with  outward  props,  a  brisk  fire  was  kindled,  and  kept 
going  until  it  was  burned  to  something  like  a  brick-red. 
This  had  not  been  an  easy  operation,  nor  had  it  succeeded 
entirely ;  but  by  dint  of  filling  the  cracks  with  fresh  clay, 
a  safe  fireplace  and  chimney  had  been  obtained  in  the 
end.  This  part  of  the  work  stood  on  the  log-floor,  secured 
beneath  by  an  extra  pile. 

"  Old  Tom  is  full  of  contrivances,"  added  Hurry,  "  and 
he  set  his  heart  on  the  success  of  his  chimney,  which 
threatened  more  than  once  to  give  out  altogether ;  but 
parseverance  will  even  overcome  smoke ;  and  now  he  has 
a  comfortable  cabin  of  it,  though  it  did  promise,  at  one 
time,  to  be  a  chinky  sort  of  a  flue  to  carry  flames  and  fire." 

"You  seem  to  know  the  whole  history  of  the  castle, 
Hurry,  chimney  and  sides,"  said  Deerslayer,  smiling; 
"  is  love  so  overcoming  that  it  causes  a  man  to  study 
his  sweetheart's  habitation  ?  " 


THE  SURPRISE  21 

"  Partly  that,  lad,  and  partly  eyesight,"  returned  the 
good-natured  giant,  laughing.  "  I  ought  to  know  it,  for  I 
raised  no  small  part  of  the  weight  of  them  uprights  with 
my  own  shoulders.  There  was  a  large  gang  of  us  at  the 
lake  the  summer  the  old  fellow  built,  and  as  we  had  often 
eaten  at  his  hearth,  we  thought  we  would  just  house  him 
comfortably,  afore  we  went  to  Albany  with  our  skins. 
Yes,  many  is  the  meal  I  've  swallowed  in  Tom  Hutter's 
cabin  :  and  good  ones,  too,  for  whatever  their  weaknesses 
or  follies,  the  girls  have- a  wonderful  particular  way  about 
a  frying-pan  or  a  gridiron  !  " 

While  the  parties  were  thus  discoursing,  the  canoe  had 
been  gradually  drawing  nearer,  and  was  now  so  close  as 
to  require  but  a  single  stroke  of  a  paddle  to  reach  the 
landing.  This  was  at  a  floored  platform  in  front  of  the 
entrance,  that  might  have  been  some  twenty  feet  square. 

"  Old  Tom  calls  this  sort  of  a  wharf  his  dooryard," 
observed  Hurry,  as  he  fastened  the  canoe,  after  he  and 
his  companion  had  left  it ;  "  and  the  gallants  from  the 
forts  have  named  it  the  '  castle  court,'  though  what  a 
1  court '  can  have  to  do  here  is  more  than  I  can  tell  you, 
seeing  that  there  is  no  law.  'T  is  as  I  supposed ;  not  a 
soul  within,  but  the  whole  family  is  off  on  a  v'y'ge  of 
discovery !  " 

While  Hurry  was  bustling  about  the  "  dooryard,"  ex- 
am^ing  the  fishing-spears,  rods,  and  nets,  Deerslayer 
enured  the  building.  The  interior,  which  was  some 
tw^ty  feet  by  forty,  was  subdivided  into  several  small 
sleeping-rooms  ;  the  apartment  into  which  he  first  entered 
serving  equally  for  the  ordinary  uses  of  its  inmates,  and 
for  a  kitchen.  The  furniture  was  of  a  strange  mixture. 


22  THE  DEERSLAYER 

Most  of  it  was  rude,  and  to  the  last  degree  rustic ;  but 
there  was  a  clock,  with  a  handsome  case  of  dark  wood,  in 
a  corner,  and  two  or  three  chairs,  with  a  table  and  bureau, 
that  had  evidently  come  from  some  dwelling  of  more  than 
usual  pretension.  There  was  also  a  dark,  massive  chest. 
The  kitchen  utensils  were  of  the  simplest  kind,  and  far 
from  numerous,  but  every  article  was  in  its  place,  and 
showed  the  nicest  care  in  its  condition. 

After  Deerslayer  had  cast  a  look  about  him  in  the  outer 
room,  he  raised  a  wooden  latch,  and  entered  a  narrow 
passage  that  divided  the  inner  end  of  the  house  into  two 
equal  parts.  Frontier  usages  being  no  way  scrupulous,  the 
young  man  now  opened  a  door,  and  found  himself  in  a 
bedroom.  A  single  glance  sufficed  to  show  that  the  apart 
ment  belonged  to  females.  The  bed  was  of  the  feathers 
of  wild  geese,  and  rilled  nearly  to  overflowing ;  but  it  lay 
in  a  rude  bunk,  raised  only  a  foot  from  the  floor.  On  one 
side  of  it  were  arranged,  on  pegs,  various  dresses,  of  a 
quality  much  superior  to  what  one  would  expect  to  meet 
in  such  a  place,  with  ribbons  and  other  similar  articles  to 
correspond.  Pretty  shoes,  with  handsome  silver  buckles, 
were  not  wanting ;  and  no  less  than  six  fans,  of  gay  col 
ors,  were  placed  half  open.  Even  the  pillow,  on  this  side 
of  the  bed,  was  covered  with  finer  linen  than  its  compan 
ion,  and  it  was  ornamented  with  a  small  ruffle.  On  the 
opposite  side  of  the  bed  everything  was  homely 
viting,  except  through  its  perfect  neatness.  The 
ments  that  were  hanging  from  the  pegs  were  of  the  coa/tsest 
materials,  while  nothing  seemed  made  for  show.  Deer- 
slayer  did  not  fail  to  note  this  distinction  between  the  two 
sides  of  the  bed,  and  pondering  on  it  in  connection  with 


THE  SURPRISE  23 

what  he  had  heard  of  the  characters  of  Hutter's  two 
daughters,  he  returned  slowly  and  thoughtfully  towards 
the  "  dooryard,"  where  Hurry  Harry  was  still  examining 
the  borderer's  traps  and  fishing  poles. 

CHAPTER  III 

As  soon  as  Hurry  Harry  had  taken  a  sufficiently  inti 
mate  survey  of  Floating  Tom's  implements,  he  summoned 
his  companion  to  the  canoe,  that  they  might  go  down  the 
lake  in  quest  of  the  family.  Previous  to  embarking,  however, 
he  carefully  examined  the  whole  of  the  northern  end  of  the 
water  with  a  ship's  glass,  that  formed  a  part  of  Hutter's 
effects.  In  this  scrutiny  no  part  of  the  shore  was  over 
looked  ;  the  bays  and  points  in  particular  being  subjected 
to  a  closer  inquiry  than  the  rest  of  the  wooded  boundary. 

1  'T  is  as  I  thought,"  said  Hurry,  laying  aside  the  glass, 
"the  old  fellow  is  drifting  about  the  south  end  this  fine 
weather,  and  has  left  the  castle  to  defend  itself.  Well,  now 
we  know  that  he  is  not  up  this-a-way,  't  will  be  but  a  small 
matter  to  paddle  down  and  hunt  him  up  in  his  hiding-place." 

"  Does  Master  Hutter  think  it  necessary  to  burrow  on 
this  lake  ?  "  inquired  Deerslayer,  stepping  into  the  canoe  ; 
"to  my  eye  it  is  such  a  solitude  as  one  might  open  his 
whole  soul  in,  and  fear  no  one  to  disarrange  his  thoughts 
or  his  worship." 

"  You  forget  your  friends,  the  Mingos,  and  all  the 
French  savages.  Is  there  a  spot  on  'arth,  Deerslayer,  to 
which  them  disquiet  rogues  don't  go  ?  Where  is  the  lake, 
that  the  blackguards  don't  find  out ;  and,  having  found  out, 
don't  sooner  or  later  discolor  its  water  with  blood  ?  " 


24  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  I  hear  no  good  character  of  them,  sartainly,  friend 
Hurry,  though  I  've  never  been  called  on,  as  yet,  to  meet 
them,  or  any  other  mortal,  on  the  warpath.  I  dare  to  say 
that  such  a  lovely  spot  as  this  would  not  be  likely  to  be 
overlooked  by  such  plunderers  ;  for  though  I  've  not  been 
in  the  way  of  quarreling  with  them  tribes  myself,  the 
Delawares  give  me  such  an  account  of  'em  that  I  've 
pretty  much  set  'em  down,  in  my  own  mind,  as  thorough 
miscreants." 

"  You  may  do  that  with  a  safe  conscience,  or,  for  that 
matter,  any  other  savage  you  may  happen  to  meet." 

Here  Deerslayer  protested,  and  as  they  went  paddling 
down  the  lake  a  hot  discussion  was  maintained  concerning 
the  respective  merits  of  the  palefaces  and  the  redskins. 
Hurry  had  all  the  prejudices  and  antipathies  of  a  white 
hunter,  who  generally  regards  the  Indian  as  a  sort  of 
natural  competitor,  and  not  unfrequently  as  a  natural 
enemy.  As  a  matter  of  course,  he  was  loud,  clamorous, 
dogmatical,  and  not  very  argumentative.!  Deerslayer,  on 
the  other  hand,  manifested  a  very  different  temper  ;  prov 
ing,  by  the  moderation  of  his  language,  the  fairness  of 
his  views,  and  the  simplicity  of  his  distinctions,  that  he 
possessed  every  disposition  to  hear  reason,  and  a  strong, 
innate  desire  to  do  justice,)  Hurry  followed  up  the  discus 
sion  with  such  animatioii  that,  in  his  eagerness  to  prove 
to  his  companion  that  Indians  were  not  more  than  half 
human  and  deserved  little  more  consideration  than  the 
wolves  and  deer  with  whom  they  shared  the  forests,  he 
would  have  forgotten  the  purpose  of  their  quest,  had  not 
Deerslayer  interrupted  his  harangue  with  a  remark  in  his 
accustomed  calm  and  even  tones.  "  Ah,  well !  'tis  useless 


talking,  as  each  man  will  think  for  himself,  and  have  his 
say  agreeable  to  his  thoughts.  Let  us  keep  a  good  look 
out  for  your  friend  Floating  Tom,  lest  we  pass  him  as  he 
lies  hidden  under  this  bushy  shore." 

Deerslayer  had  not  named  the  borders  of  the  lake 
amiss.  Along  their  whole  length,  the  smaller  trees  over 
hung  the  water,  with  their  branches  often  dipping  in  the 
transparent  element.  The  banks  were  steep,  even  from 
the  narrow  strand ;  and  the  points  and  bays,  too,  were 
sufficiently  numerous  to  render  the  outline  broken  and 
diversified.  As  the  canoe  kept  close  along  the  western 
side  of  the  lake,  the  expectations  of  the  two  adventurers 
were  kept  constantly  on  the  stretch,  as  neither  could  fore 
tell  what  the  next  turning  of  a  point  might  reveal.  Their 
progress  was  swift,  the  gigantic  strength  of  Hurry  enabling 
him  to  play  with  the  light  bark  as  if  it  had  been  a  feather, 
while  the  skill  of  his  companion  almost  equalized  their 
usefulness,  notwithstanding  the  disparity  in  natural  means. 

Each  time  the  canoe  passed  a  point,  Hurry  turned  a 
look  behind  him,  expecting  to  see  the  "ark"  anchored, 
or  beached  in  the  bay.  He  was  fated  to  be  disappointed, 
however  ;  and  they  had  got  within  a  mile  of  the  southern 
end  of  the  lake,  or  a  distance  of  quite  two  leagues  from 
the  "castle,"  which  was  now  hidden  from  view  by  half  a 
dozen  intervening  projections  of  the  land,  when  he  sud 
denly  ceased  paddling,  as  if  uncertain  in  what  direction 
next  to  steer. 

"It  is  possible  that  the  old  chap  has  dropped  into  the 
river,"  said  Hurry,  after  looking  carefully  along  the  whole 
of  the  eastern  shore,  which  was  about  a  mile  distant,  and 
open  to  hfs  scrutiny  for  more  than  half  its  length  ;  "for 


26  THE  DEERSLAYER 

he  has  taken  to  trapping  considerable,  of  late,  and,  barring 
flood-wood,  he  might  drop  down  it  a  mile  or  so  ;  though  he 
would  have  a  most  scratching  time  in  getting  back  again  !  " 

"  Where  is  this  outlet  ?  "  asked  Deerslayer  ;  "  I  see  no 
opening  in  the  banks  or  the  trees  that  looks  as  if  it  would 
let  a  river  like  the  Susquehannah  run  through  it." 

"  You  don't  see  the  outlet,  because  it  passes  atween 
high,  steep  banks  ;  and  the  pines  and  hemlocks  and  bass- 
woods  hang  over  it,  as  a  roof  hangs  over  a  house.  If  old 
Tom  is  not  in  the  '  Rat's  Cove,'  he  must  have  burrowed 
in  the  river ;  we  '11  look  for  him  first  in  the  cove,  and 
then  we  '11  cross  to  the  outlet." 

As  they  proceeded,  Hurry  explained  that  there  was  a 
shallow  bay,  formed  by  a  long,  low  point,  that  had  got  the 
name  of  the  "  Rat's  Cove,"  from  the  circumstance  of  its 
being  a  favorite  haunt  of  the  muskrat ;  and  which  offered 
so  complete  a  cover  for  the  "  ark  "  that  its  owner  was  fond 
of  lying  in  it,  whenever  he  found  it  convenient. 

"  As  a  man  never  knows  who  may  be  his  visitors,  in 
this  part  of  the  country,"  said  Hurry,  "  it 's  a  great  advan 
tage  to  get  a  good  look  at  'em  before  they  come  too  near. 
Now  it 's  war,  such  caution  is  more  than  commonly  useful, 
since  a  Canada  man  or  a  Mingo  might  get  into  his  hut  afore 
he  invited  'em.  But  Hutter  is  a  first-rate  lookouter,  and 
can  pretty  much  scent  danger,  as  a  hound  scents  the  deer. 
But  here  is  Rat's  Cove,"  continued  Hurry,  as  the  canoe 
glided  round  the  extremity  of  the  point,  where  the  water 
was  so  deep  as  actually  to  appear  black :  "  and  we  shall 
soon  see  the  ark,  for  Tom  loves  to  burrow  up  among  the 
rushes.  We  shall  be  in  his  nest  in  five  minutes,  although 
the  old  fellow  may  be  off  among  the  traps  himself." 


THE  SURPRISE  27 

If  concealment  were  Mutter's  purpose,  Hurry  might 
well  have  felt  almost  certain  of  finding  the  ark  in  this  bay, 
since,  anchored  behind  the  trees  that  covered  the  narrow 
strip  of  the  point,  it  might  have  lain  concealed  from  pry 
ing  eyes  an  entire  summer.  So  complete,  indeed,  was  the 
cover,  in  this  spot,  that  a  boat  hauled  close  to  the  beach, 
within  the  point,  and  near  the  bottom  of  the  bay,  could  by 
possibility  be  seen  from  only  one  direction  ;  and  that  was 
from  a  densely-wooded  shore  within  the  sweep  of  the 
water,  where  strangers  would  be  little  apt  to  go.  But  he 
proved  a  false  prophet.  The  canoe  completely  doubled 
the  point,  so  as  to  enable  the  two  travellers  to  command  a 
view  of  the  whole  cove  or  bay,  —  for  it  was  more  properly 
the  last,  —  and  no  object  but  those  that  nature  had  placed 
there  became  visible.  The  placid  water  swept  round  in  a 
graceful  curve,  the  rushes  bent  gently  towards  its  surface, 
and  the  trees  overhung  it  as  usual ;  but  all  lay  in  the 
soothing  and  sublime  solitude  of  a  wilderness. 

The  motion  of  the  canoe  had  been  attended  with  little 
or  no  noise,  the  frontier-men  habitually  getting  accustomed 
to  caution  in  most  of  their  movements,  and  it  now  lay  on 
the  glassy  water  appearing  to  float  in  air,  partaking  of  the 
breathing  stillness  that  seemed  to  pervade  the  entire  scene. 
\  At  this  instant  a  dry  stick  was  heard  cracking  on  the  nar 
row  strip  of  land  that  concealed  the  bay  from  the  open 
lake.  Both  the  adventurers  started,  and  each  extended  a 
hand  towards  his  rifle,  the  weapon  never  being  out  of 
reach  of  the  arm. 

'Twas  too  heavy  for  any  light  create',''  whispered 
Hurry,  "and  it  sounded  like  the  tread  of  a  man !  " 

"Not  so  —  not  so,"  returned  Deerslayer ;  "'twas,  as 


28  THE  DEERSLAYER 

you  say,  too  heavy  for  one,  but  it  was  too  light  for  the 
other.  Put  your  paddle  in  the  water,  and  send  the  canoe 
in,  to  that  log ;  I  '11  land  and  cut  off  the  creatur's  retreat 
up  the  p'int,  be  it  a  Mingo,  or  be  it  only  a  muskrat." 

As  Hurry  complied,  Deerslayer  was  soon  on  the  shore, 
advancing  into  the  thicket  with  a  moccasined  foot,  and  a 
caution  that  prevented  the  least  noise.  In  a  minute  he 
was  in  the  centre  of  the  narrow  strip  of  land,  and  moving 
slowly  down  towards  its  end,  the  bushes  rendering  extreme 
watchfulness  necessary.  Just  as  he  reached  the  centre  of 
the  thicket  the  dried  twigs  cracked  again,  and  the  noise 
was  repeated  at  short  intervals,  as  if  some  creature  having 
life  walked  slowly  towards  the  point.  Hurry  heard  these 
sounds  also,  and  pushing  the  canoe  off  into  the  bay  he 
seized  his  rifle  to  watch  the  result.  A  breathless  minute 
succeeded  after  which  a  noble  buck  walked  out  of  the 
thicket,  proceeded  with  a  stately  step  to  the  sandy  extrem 
ity  of  the  point,  and  began  to  slake  his  thirst  from  the 
water  of  the  lake.  Hurry  hesitated  an  instant ;  then,  rais 
ing  his  rifle  hastily  to  his  shoulder,  he  took  sight  and 
fired.  The  effect  of  this  sudden  interruption  of  the  solemn 
stillness  of  such  a  scene  was  not  its  least  striking  peculiar 
ity.  The  report  of  the  weapon  had  the  usual  sharp,  short 
sound  of  the  rifle ;  but  when  a  few  moments  of  silence 
had  succeeded  the  sudden  crack,  during  which  the  noise 
was  floating  in  air  across  the  water,  it  reached  the  rocks 
of  the  opposite  mountain,  where  the  vibrations  accumu 
lated,  and  were  rolled  from  cavity  to  cavity  for  miles 
along  the  hills,  seeming  to  awaken  the  sleeping  thunders 
of  the  woods.  The  buck  merely  shook  his  head  at  the 
report  of  the  rifle  and  the  whistling  of  the  bullet,  for 


THE  SURPRISE  29 

never  before  had  he  come  in  contact  with  man  ;  but  the 
echoes  of  the  hills  awakened  his  distrust,  and  leaping  for 
ward,  with  his  four  legs  drawn  under  his  body,  he  fell  at 
once  into  deep  water,  and  began  to  swim  towards  the  foot 
of  the  lake.  .Hurry  shouted  and  dashed  forward  in  chase, 
and  for  one  or  two  minutes  the  water  foamed  around  the 
pursuer  and  the  pursued.  The  former  was  dashing  past 
the  point,  when  Deerslayer  appeared  on  the  sand,  and 
signed  to  him  to  return. 

'  'T  was  inconsiderate  to  pull  a  trigger  afore  we  had 
reconn'itered  the  shore,  and  made  sartain  that  no  inimies 
harbored  near  it,"  said  the  latter,  as  his  companion  slowly 
and  reluctantly  complied.  "  This  much  I  have  1'arned 
from  the  Delawares,  in  the  way  of  schooling  and  tradi 
tions,  even  though  I  've  never  yet  been  on  a  warpath. 
And  moreover,  venison  can  hardly  be  called  in  season 
now,  and  we  do  not  want  for  food.  They  call  me  Deer- 
•  slayer,  I  '11  own ;  and  perhaps  I  desarve  the  name,  in  the 
way  of  understanding  the  creatur's  habits,  as  well  as  for 
sartainty  in  the  aim ;  but  they  can't  accuse  me  of  killing 
an  animal  when  there  is  no  occasion  for  the  meat  or  the 
skin.  I  may  be  a  slayer,  it 's  true,  but  I  'm  no  slaughterer." 

*  'T  was  an  awful  mistake  to  miss  that  buck ! "  exclaimed 
Hurry ;  "  I  've  not  done  so  onhandy  a  thing  since  I  was 
fifteen." 

"  Never  lament  it ;  the  creatur's  death  could  have 
done  neither  of  us  any  good,  and  might  have  done  us 
harm.  Them  echoes  are  more  awful  in  my  ears  than  your 
mistake,  Hurry ;  for  they  sound  like  the  voice  of  natur' 
calling  out  agin  a  wasteful  and  onthinking  action." 

"  You  '11  hear  plenty  of  such  calls,  if  you  tarry  long 


30  THE  DEERSLAYER 

in  this  quarter  of  the  world,  lad,"  returned  the  other, 
laughing.  "  The  echoes  repeat  pretty  much  all  that  is 
said  or  done  on  the  Glimmerglass,  in  this  calm  summer 
weather.  If  a  paddle  falls,  you  hear  of  it  sometimes  agin 
and  agin,  as  if  the  hills  were  mocking  your  clumsiness ; 
and  a  laugh  or  a  whistle  comes  out  of  them  pines,  when 
they  're  in  the  humor  to  speak,  in  a  way  to  make  you 
believe  they  can  raally  convarse." 

"  So  much  the  more  reason  for  being  prudent  and 
silent.  I  do  not  think  the  inimy  can  have  found  their 
way  into  these  hills  yet,  for  I  don't  know  what  they  are 
to  gain  by  it ;  but  all  the  Delawares  tell  me  that,  as  cour 
age  is  a  warrior's  first  vartue,  so  is  prudence  his  second. 
One  such  call,  from  the  mountains,  is  enough  to  let  a 
whole  tribe  into  the  secret  of  our  arrival." 

"  If  it  does  no  other  good,  it  will  warn  old  Tom  to  put 
the  pot  over,  and  let  him  know  visitors  are  at  hand. 
Come,  lad ;  get  into  the  canoe,  and  we  will  hunt  the 
ark  up  while  there  is  yet  day." 

Deerslayer  complied,  and  the  canoe  left  the  spot.  Its 
head  was  turned  diagonally  across  the  lake,  pointing 
towards  the  southeastern  curvature  of  the  sheet.  In  that 
direction  the  distance  to  the  shore,  or  to  the  termination 
of  the  lake,  on  the  course  the  two  were  now  steering,  was 
not  quite  a  mile,  and  their  progress  being  always  swift,  it 
was  fast  lessening,  under  the  skillful  but  easy  sweeps  of 
the  paddles.  When  about  halfway  across,  a  slight  noise 
drew  the  eyes  of  the  men  towards  the  nearest  land,  and 
they  saw  that  the  buck  was  just  emerging  from  the  lake, 
and  wading  towards  the  beach.  In  a  minute  the  noble 
animal  shook  the  water  from  his  flanks,  gazed  upwards  at 


THE  SURPRISE  31 

the  covering  of  trees,  and,  bounding  against  the  bank, 
plunged  into  the  forest. 

"That  creatur'  goes  off  with  gratitude  in  his  heart," 
said  Deerslayer,  "  for  natur'  tells  him  he  has  escaped  a 
great  danger.  You  ought  to  have  some  of  the  same 
feelin's,  Hurry,  to  think  your  eye  wasn't  truer  —  that 
your  hand  was  onsteady,  when  no  good  could  come  of 
a  shot  that  was  intended  onmeaningly,  rather  than  in 
reason." 

"  I  deny  the  eye  and  the  hand,"  cried  March,  with 
some  heat.  "  You  've  got  a  little  character,  down  among 
the  Delawares,  there,  for  quickness  and  sartainty  at  a 
deer ;  but  I  should  like  to  see  you  behind  one  of  them 
pines,  and  a  full-painted  Mingo  behind  another,  each  with 
a  cocked  rifle  and  a-striving  for  the  chance  !  Them  's  the 
situations,  Nathaniel,  to  try  the  sight  and  the  hand,  for 
they  begin  with  trying  the  narves.  I  never  look  upon 
killing  a  creatur'  as  an  explite ;  but  killing  a  savage  is. 
The  time  will  come  to  try  your  hand,  now  we  Ve  got  to 
blows  agin,  and  we  shall  soon  know  what  a  ven'son  repu 
tation  can  do  in  the  field.  I  deny  that  either  hand  or  eye 
was  onsteady ;  it  was  all  a  miscalculation  of  the  buck, 
which  stood  still  when  he  ought  to  have  kept  in  motion, 
and  so  I  shot  ahead  of  him/' 

"  Have  it  your  own  way,  Hurry ;  all  I  contend  for  is, 
that  it 's  lucky.  I  dare  say  I  shall  not  pull  upon  a  human 
mortal  as  steadily,  or  with  as  light  a  heart,  as  I  pull  upon 
a  deer." 

"  Who  's  talking  of  mortals,  or  of  human  beings  at  all, 
Deerslayer  ?  I  put  the  matter  to  you  on  the  supposition 
of  an  Injin.  I  dare  say  any  man  would  have  his  feelin's 


32  THE  DEERSLAYER 

when  it  got  to  be  life  or  death,  agin  another  human 
mortal ;  but  there  would  be  no  such  scruples  in  regard  to 
an  Injin  ;  nothing  but  the  chance  of  his  hitting  you,  or 
the  chance  of  your  hitting  him." 

"  I  look  upon  the  red-men  to  be  quite  as  human  as  we 
are  ourselves,  Hurry.  They  have  their  gifts,  and  their 
religion,  it 's  true ;  but  that  makes  no  difference  in  the 
end." 

"  Now  look  here,  Deerslayer,"  cried  Hurry,  excitedly, 
"  you  're  a  boy,  and  misled  and  misconsaited  by  Delaware 
arts,  and  missionary  ignorance.  But  this  is  what  I  call 
reason.  Here  's  three  colors  on  'arth  :  white,  black,  and 
red.  White  is  the  highest  color,  and  therefore  the  best 
man ;  black  comes  next,  and  is  put  to  live  in  the  neigh 
borhood  of  the  white  man,  as  tolerable,  and  fit  to  be  made 
1  use  of ;  and  red  comes  last,  which  shows  that  those  that 
I  made  'em  never  expected  an  Indian  to  be  accounted  as 
more  than  half  human." 

"  God  made  us  all,  white,  black,  and  red ;  that  I  '11 
gladly  admit,  and,  no  doubt,  had  his  own  wise  intentions 
in  coloring  us  differently.  Still  I  do  say  He  made  us  all 
men,  and,  in  the  main,  much  the  same  in  feelin's  ;  though 
I  '11  not  deny  that  He  gave  each  race  its  gifts.  A  white 
man's  gifts  are  Christianized,  while  a  redskin's  are  more 
for  the  wilderness.  Thus,  it  would  be  a  great  offense  for 
a  white  man  to  scalp  the  dead  ;  whereas  it 's  a  signal  var- 
tue  in  an  Indian." 

"  That  depends  on  your  inimy.  As  for  scalping,  or 
even  skinning  a  savage,  I  look  upon  them  pretty  much 
the  same  as  cutting  off  the  ears  of  wolves  for  the  bounty, 
or  stripping  a  bear  of  its  hide.  And  then  you  're  out 


THE  SURPRISE  33 

significantly,  as  to  taking  the  poll  of  a  redskin  in  hand, 
seeing  that  the  very  colony  has  offered  a  bounty  for  the 
job ;  all  the  same  as  it  pays  for  wolves'  ears  and  crows' 
heads." 

."  Aye,  and  a  bad  business  it  is,  Hurry.  Even  the  In 
dians  themselves  cry  shame  on  it,  seeing  it 's  agin  a  white 
man's  gifts.  I  do  not  pretend  that  all  that  white  men  do] 
is  properly  Christianized,  and" according  to  the  lights  given 
"iHernTfor  then  they  would  be  what  they  ought  to  be,  which 
we  know  they  are_HQti.j3ut  I  will  maintain  that  tradition, 
ancTuse,  and  color,  and  laws,  make  such  a  difference  in 
races  as  to  amount  to  gifts.  In  a  state  of  lawful  warfare, 
such  as  we  have  lately  got  into,  it  is  a  duty  to  keep  down 
all  compassionate  feelin's,  so  far  as  life  goes,  agin  either ; 
but  when  it  comes  to  scalps,  it 's  a  very  different  matter." 

"  just  hearken  to  reason,  if  you  please,  Deerslayer,  and 
tell  me  if  the  colony  can  make  an  onlawful  law  ?  A  law 
can  no  more  be  onlawful,  than  truth  can  be  a  lie." 

"  That  sounds  reasonable  ;  but  it  has  a  most  onreason- 
able  bearing,  Hurry.  Laws  don't  all  come  from  the  same 
quarter.  God  has  given  us  his'n,  and  some  come  frorri 
the  colony,  and  others  come  from  the  king  and  parlia- 
jnent.  When  the  colony's  laws,  pr  even  the  king's  laws, 
run  agin  the  laws  of  God,  they  get  to  be  onlawful,  and 
ought  not  to  be  obeyed.  I  hold  to  a  white  man's  respect 
ing  white  laws,  so  long  as  they  do  not  cross  the  track  of  a 
law  coming  from  a  higher  authority ;  and  for  a  red-man  to 
obey  his  own  redskin  usages,  under  the  same  privileges. 
But  when  it  comes  to  a  white  man's  taking  redskin  usages, 
I  say  he  don't  understand  his  own  gifts.  And  in  the  end 
each  will  be  judged  according  to  his  deeds  and  his  gifts." 


34  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  You  may  do  as  you  please,  and  you  may  account  your 
self  as  a  redskin's  brother  if  you  like  ;  but  /  hold  'em  all  to 
be  animals ;  with  nothing  human  about  'em  but  cunning. 
That  they  have,  I  '11  allow ;  but  so  has  a  fox,  or  even  a 
bear.  I  'm  older  than  you,  and  have  lived  longer  in  the 
woods  —  or,  for  that  matter,  have  lived  always  there,  and 
am  not  to  be  told  what  an  Injin  is  or  what  he  is  not." 

Deerslayer  too  well  knew  the  uselessness  of  attempting 
to  convince  such  a  being  of  anything  against  his  preju 
dices,  to  feel  a  desire  to  undertake  the  task  ;  and  he  was 
not  sorry  when  the  approach  of  the  canoe  to  the  south 
eastern  curve  of  the  lake  gave  a  new  direction  to  his  ideas. 
They  were  now,  indeed,  quite  near  the  place  that  March 
had  pointed  out  for  the  position  of  the  outlet,  and  both 
began  to  look  for  it  with  a  curiosity  that  was  increased  by 
the  expectation  of  finding  the  ark. 

It  may  strike  the  reader  as  a  little  singular,  that  the 
place  where  a  stream  of  any  size  passed  through  banks 
that  had  an  elevation  of  some  twenty  feet  should  be  a 
matter  of  doubt  with  men  who  could  not  now  have  been 
more  than  two  hundred  yards  distant  from  the  precise 
spot.  It  will  be  recollected,  however,  that  the  trees  and 
bushes  here,  as  elsewhere,  fairly  overhung  the  water,  mak 
ing  such  a  fringe  to  the  lake  as  to  conceal  any  little  varia 
tions  from  its  general  outline. 

"  I  've  not  been  down  at  this  end  of  the  lake  these  two 
summers,"  said  Hurry,  standing  up  in  the  canoe,  the 
better  to  look  about  him.  "  Aye,  there  's  the  rock,  showing 
its  chin  above  the  water,  and  I  know  that  the  river  begins 
in  its  neighborhood." 

The  men  now  plied  the  paddles  again,  and  they  were 


THE  SURPRISE  35 

presently  within  a  few  yards  of  the  rock,  floating  towards 
it,  though  their  efforts  were  suspended.  This  rock  was 
not  large,  being  merely  some  five  or  six  feet  high,  only 
half  of  which  elevation  rose  above  the  lake.  The  incessant 
washing  of  the  water  for  centuries  had  so  rounded  its 
summit,  that  it  resembled  a  large  beehive  in  shape,  its 
form  being  more  than  usually  regular  and  even.  Hurry 
remarked,  as  they  floated  slowly  past,  that,  this  rock  was 
well  known  to  all  the  Indians  in  that  part  of  the  country, 
and  that  they  were  in  the  practice  of  using  it  as  a  mark 
to  designate  the  place  of  meeting,  when  separated  by  their 
hunts  and  marches. 

"And  here  is  the  river,  Deerslayer,"  he  continued, 
"though  so  shut  in  by  trees  and  bushes  as  to  look  more 
like  an  ambush  than  the  outlet  of  such  a  sheet  as  the 
Glimmerglass." 

Hurry  had  not  badly  described  the  place,  which  did 
truly  seem  to  be  a  stream  lying  in  ambush..  The  high 
banks  might  have  been  a  hundred  feet  asunder ;  but,  on 
the  western  side,  a  small  bit  of  low  land  extended  so  far 
forward  as  to  diminish  the  breadth  of  the  stream  to  half 
that  width.  As  the  bushes  hung  in  the  water  beneath, 
and  pines  that  had  the  stature  of  church-steeples  rose  in 
tall  columns  above,  all  inclining  towards  the  light  until 
their  branches  intermingled,  the  eye,  at  a  little  distance, 
could  not  easily  detect  any  opening  in  the  shore,  to  mark 
the  egress  of  the  water.  In  the  forest  above,  no  traces  of 
this  outlet  were  to  be  seen  from  the  lake,  the  whole  pre 
senting  the  same  connected  and  seemingly  interminable 
carpet  of  leaves.  As  the  canoe  slowly  advanced,  sucked 
in  by  the  current,  it  entered  beneath  an  arch  of  trees, 


36  THE  DEERSLAYER 

through  which  the  light  from  the  heavens  struggled  by 
casual  openings,  faintly  relieving  the  gloom  beneath. 

"This  is  a  nat'ral  ambush,"  half  whispered  Hurry,  as 
if  he  felt  that  the  place  was  devoted  to  secrecy  and  watch 
fulness  ;  "  depend  on  it,  old  Tom  has  burrowed  with  the 
ark  somewhere  in  this  quarter.  We  will  drop  down  with 
the  current  a  short  distance,  and  ferret  him  out." 

"  This  seems  no  place  for  a  vessel  of  any  size,"  returned 
the  other ;  "it  appears  to  me  that  we  shall  have  hardly 
room  enough  for  the  canoe." 

Hurry  laughed  at  the  suggestion,  and,  as  it  soon  ap 
peared,  with  reason  ;  for  the  fringe  of  bushes  immediately 
on  the  shore  of  the  lake  was  no  sooner  passed,  than  the 
adventurers  found  themselves  in  a  narrow  stream,  of  a 
sufficient  depth  of  limpid  water,  with  a  strong  current, 
and  a  canopy  of  leaves  upheld  by  arches  composed  of  the 
limbs  of  hoary  trees.  Bushes  lined  the  shores,  as  usual, 
but  they  left  sufficient  space  between  them  to  admit -the 
passage  of  anything  that  did  not  exceed  twenty  feet  in 
width,  and  to  allow  of  a  perspective  ahead  of  eight  or  ten 
times  that  distance. 

Neither  of  our  two  adventurers  used  his  paddle,  except 
to  keep  the  light  bark  in  the  centre  of  the  current,  but 
both  watched  each  turning  of  the  stream,  of  which  there 
were  two  or  three  within  the  first  hundred  yards,  with 
jealous  vigilance.  Turn  after  turn,  however,  was  passed, 
and  the  canoe  had  dropped  down  with  the  current  some 
little  distance,  when  Hurry  caught  a  bush,  and  arrested 
its  movement  so  suddenly  and  silently  as  to  denote  some 
unusual  motive  for  the  act.  Deerslayer  laid  his  hand  on 
the  stock  of  his  rifle  as  soon  as  he  noted  this  proceeding, 


THE  SURPRISE  37 

but  it  was  quite  as  much  with  a  hunter's  habit  as  from 
any  feeling  of  alarm. 

"  There  the  old  fellow  is  !  "  whispered  Hurry,  pointing 
with  a  finger,  and  laughing  heartily,  though  he  carefully 
avoided  making  a  noise,  "  ratting  it  away,  just  as  I  sup 
posed  ;  up  to  his  knees  in  the  mud  and  water,  looking  to 
the  traps  and  the  bait.  But  for  the  life  of  me  I  can  see 
nothing  of  the  ark  ;  though  I  '11  bet  every  skin  I  take  this 
season,  Jude  isn't  trusting  her  pretty  little  feet  in  the 
neighborhood  of  that  black  mud.  The  gal 's  more  likely 
to  be  braiding  her  hair  by  the  side  of  some  spring,  where 
she  can  see  her  own  good  looks,  and  collect  scornful  feel 
ings  agin  us  men." 

"You  overjudge  young  women  —  yes,  you  do,  Hurry 
—  who  as  often  bethink  them  of  their  failings  as  they  do 
of  their  perfections.  I  dare  to  say  this  Judith,  now,  is  no 
such  admirer  of  herself,  and  no  such  scorner  of  our  sex 
as  you  seem  to  think  ;  and  that  she  is  quite  as  likely  to 
be  sarving  her  father  in  the  house,  wherever  that  may  be, 
as  he  is  to  be  sarving  her  among  the  traps." 

"  It 's  a  pleasure  to  hear  truth  from  a  man's  tongue,  if 
it  be  only  once  in  a  girl's  life,"  cried  a  pleasant,  rich,  and 
yet  soft  female  voice,  so  near  the  canoe  as  to  make  both 
the  listeners  start.  "As  for  you,  Master  Hurry,  fair  words 
are  so  apt  to  choke  you,  that  I  no  longer  expect  to  hear 
them  from  your  mouth  ;  the  last  you  uttered  sticking  in 
your  throat,  and  coming  near  to  death.  But  I  'm  glad  to 
see  you  keep  better  society  than  formerly,  and  that  they 
who  know  how  to  esteem  and  treat  women  are  not  ashamed 
to  journey  in  your  company." 

As  this  was  said,  a  singularly  handsome  and  youthful 


38  THE  DEERSLAYER 

female  face  was  thrust  through  an  opening  in  the  leaves, 
within  reach  of  Deerslayer's  paddle.  Its  owner  smiled  gra 
ciously  on  the  young  man ;  and  the  frown  that  she  cast 
on  Hurry,  though  simulated  and  pettish,  had  the  effect  to 
render  her  beauty  more  striking,  by  exhibiting  the  play 
of  an  expressive  but  capricious  countenance,  —  one  that 
seemed  to  change  from  the  soft  to  the  severe,  the  mirthful 
to  the  reproving,  with  facility  and  indifference. 

A  second  look  explained  the  nature  of  the  surprise. 
Unwittingly,  the  men  had  dropped  alongside  of  the  ark, 
which  had  been  purposely  concealed  in  bushes  cut  and 
arranged  for  the  purpose ;  and  Judith  Hutter  had  merely 
pushed  aside  the  leaves  that  lay  before  a  window,  in  order 
to  show  her  face,  and  speak  to  them. 

CHAPTER  IV 

The  ark,  as  the  floating  habitation  of  the  Hutters  was 
generally  called,  was  a  very  simple  contrivance.  A  large 
flat,  or  scow,  composed  the  buoyant  part  of  the  vessel ; 
and  in  its  centre,  occupying  the  whole  of  its  breadth  and 
about  two  thirds  of  its  length,  stood  a  low  fabric,  resem 
bling  the  castle  in  construction,  though  made  of  materials 
so  light  as  barely  to  be  bullet-proof.  As  the  sides  of  the 
scow  were  a  little  higher  than  usual,  and  the  interior  of 
the  cabin  had  no  more  elevation  than  was  necessary  for 
comfort,  this  unusual  addition  had  neither  a  very  clumsy 
nor  a  very  obtrusive  appearance.  It  was,  in  short,  little 
more  than  a  modern  canal-boat,  though  more  rudely  con 
structed,  of  greater  breadth  than  common,  and  bearing 
about  it  the  signs  of  the  wilderness,  in  its  bark-covered 


THE  SURPRISE  39 

posts  and  roof.  The  scow,  however,  had  been  put  to 
gether  with  some  skill,  being  comparatively  light  for  its 
strength,  and  sufficiently  manageable.  The  cabin  was 
divided  into  two  apartments,  one  of  which  served  for  a 
parlor,  and  the  sleeping-room  of  the  father,  and  the  other 
was  appropriated  to  the  uses  of  the  daughters.  A  very 
simple  arrangement  sufficed  for  the  kitchen,  which  was 
in  one  end  of  the  scow,  and  removed  from  the  cabin, 
standing  in  the  open  air ;  the  ark  being  altogether  a 
summer  habitation. 

As  soon  as  the  canoe  could  be  got  round  to  the  proper 
opening,  Hurry  leaped  on  board,  and  in  a  minute  was 
closely  engaged  in  a  gay  discourse  with  Judith,  apparently 
forgetful  of  the  existence  of  all  the  rest  of  the  world. 
Meanwhile  Deerslayer  entered  the  ark  with  a  slow  step, 
examining  every  arrangement  with  curious  and  scrutiniz 
ing  eyes.  Step  by  step  did  he  look  into  the  construction 
of  this  singular  abode,  and  more  than  once  his  commen 
dation  escaped  him  in  audible  comments.  The  course  of 
his  investigation  brought  him  erelong  to  the  end  of  the 
scow  opposite  to  that  where  he  had  left  Hurry  and  Judith. 
Here  he  found  the  other  sister,  employed  on  some  coarse 
needlework,  seated  beneath  the  leafy  canopy  of  the  cover. 

Deerslayer  had  gathered  from  Hurry's  remarks  that 
Hetty  was  considered  to  have  less  intellect  than  ordinarily 
falls  to  the  share  of  human  beings ;  and  his  education 
among  Indians  had  taught  him  to  treat  those  who  were 
thus  afflicted  by  Providence  with  more  than  common 
tenderness.  Nor  was  there  anything  in  Hetty  Hutter's 
appearance,  as  so  often  happens,  to  weaken  the  interest 
her  situation  excited.  An  idiot  she  could  not  properly  be 


40  THE  DEERSLAYER 

termed,  her  mind  being  just  enough  enfeebled  to  lose 
most  of  those  traits  that  are  connected  with  the  more  art 
ful  qualities,  and  to  retain  its  ingenuousness  and  love  of 
truth.  It  had  often  been  remarked  of  this  girl,  by  the  few 
who  had  seen  her  and  who  possessed  sufficient  knowledge 
to  discriminate,  that  her  perception  of  the  right  seemed 
almost  intuitive,  while  her  aversion  to  the  wrong  formed  so 
distinctive  a  feature  of  her  mind  as  to  surround  her  with 
an  atmosphere  of  pure  morality ;  peculiarities  that  are  not 
unfrequent  with  persons  who  are  termed  feeble-minded  ;  as 
if  God  had  forbidden  the  evil  spirits  to  invade  a  precinct  so 
defenseless,  with  the  benign  purpose  of  extending  a  direct 
protection  to  those  who  had  been  left  without  the  usual 
aids  of  humanity.  Her  person,  too,  was  agreeable,  having 
a  strong  resemblance  to  that  of  her  sister,  of  which  it  was 
a  subdued  and  humble  copy.  If  it  had  none  of  the  bril 
liancy  of  Judith's,  the  calm,  quiet,  almost  holy  expression 
of  her  meek  countenance  seldom  failed  to  win  on  the  ob 
server  ;  and  few  noted  it  long  that  did  not  begin  to  feel 
a  deep  and  lasting  interest  in  the  girl. 

"You  are  Hetty  Hutter,"  said  Deerslayer  gently. 
"  Hurry  Harry  has  told  me  of  you." 

"Yes,  I  'm  Hetty  Hutter,"  returned  the  girl,  in  a  low, 
sweet  voice,—  "Judith  Hutter's  sister,  and  Thomas  Hutter's 
youngest  daughter.  What 's  your  name  ?  " 

,"  That 's  a  question  more  easily  asked  than  it  is  an 
swered,  young  woman  ;  seeing  that  I  'm  so  young,  and 
yet  have  borne  more  names  than  some  of  the  greatest 
chiefs  in  all  America." 

"  But  you  've  got  a  name  —  you  don't  throw  away  one 
name  before  you  come  honestly  by  another  ?  " 


THE  SURPRISE  41 

"  I  hope  not,  gal  —  I  hope  not.  My  names  have  come- 
nat'rally ;  and  I  suppose  the  one  I  bear  now  will  be  of  no 
great  lasting,  since  the  Delawares  seldom  settle  on  a  man's 
raal  title,  until  such  time  as  he  has  an  opportunity  of  show 
ing  his  true  natur',  in  the  council  or  on  the  warpath ; 
which  has  never  behappened  me  ;  seeing,  firstly,  because 
I  'm  not  born  a  redskin,  and  have  no  right  to  sit  in  their 
councilings,  and  am  much  too  humble  to  be  called  on  for 
opinions  from  the  great  of  my  own  color ;  and,  secondly, 
because  this  is  the  first  war  that  has  befallen  in  my  time, 
and  no  inimy  has  yet  inroaded  far  enough  into  the  colony 
to  be  reached  by  an  arm  even  longer  than  mine." 

"  Tell  me  all  your  names,"  added  Hetty,  looking  up  at 
him  artlessly,  "  and,  maybe,  I  '11  tell  you  your  character." 

"  There  is  some  truth  in  that,  I  '11  not  deny,  though  it 
often  fails.  Well,  I  've  no  objection,  and  you  shall  hear 
them  all.  In  the  first  place,  then,  I  'm  Christian,  and 
white-born,  like  yourself,  and  my  parents  had  a  name  that 
came  down  from  father  to  son,  as  is  a  part  of  their  gifts. 
My  father  was  called  Bumppo  ;  and  I  was  named  after 
him,  of  course,  the  given  name  being  Nathaniel,  or  Natty, 
as  most  people  saw  fit  to  tarm  it." 

"Yes,  yes  —  Natty  —  and  Hetty"  —interrupted  the 
girl  quickly,  and  looking  up  from  her  work  again,  with 
a  smile:  "you  are  Natty,  and  I'm  Hetty  —  though  you 
are  Bumppo,  and  I  'm  Hutter.  Bumppo  is  n't  as  pretty 
as  Hutter,  is  it  ?  " 

"Why,  that's  as  people  fancy.  Bumppo  has  no  lofty 
sound,  I  admit ;  and  yet  men  have  bumped  through  the 
world  with  it.  I  did  not  go  by  this  name,  hows'ever,  very 
long ;  for  the  Delawares  soon  found  out,  or  thought  they 


42  THE  DEERSLAYER 

•found  out,  that  I  was  not  given  to  lying,  and  they  called 
me,  firstly,  "Straight- tongue." 

"  That's  ajwdfname,"  interrupted  Hetty,  earnestly,  and 
in  a  positive  manner ;  "  don't  tell  me  there  's  no  virtue 
in  names !  " 

"  I  do  not  say  that,  for  perhaps  I  desarved  to  be  so 
called,  lies  being  no  favorites  with  me,  as  they  are  with 
some.  After  a  while  they  found  out  that  I  was  quick,  of 
foot,  and  then  they  called  me  '  The  Pigeon ' ;  which,  you 
know,  has  a  swift  wing,  and  flies  in  a  direct  line." 

"That  was  a  pretty  name!"  exclaimed  Hetty;  "pi 
geons  are  pretty  birds  !  " 

11  Then  from  carrying  messages,  and  striking  blind 
trails,  I  got  at  last  to  following  the  hunters,  when  it  was 
thought  I  was  quicker  and  surer  at  finding  the  game  than 
most  lads,  and  then  they  called  me  the  '  Lap-ear  ' ;  as,  they 
said,  I  partook  of  the  sagacity  of  a  hound." 

"  That 's  not  so  pretty,"  answered  Hetty ;  "  I  hope  you 
did  n't  keep  that  name  long." 

"  Not  after  I  was  rich  enough  to  buy  a  rifle,"  returned 
the  other,  betraying  a  little  pride  through  his  usually  quiet 
and  subdued  manner ;  "  then  it  was  seen  I  could  keep  a 
wigwam  in  ven'son  ;  and  in  time  I  got  the  name  of  '  Deer- 
slayer,  '  which  is  that  I  now  bear ;  homely  as  some  will 
think  it,  who  set  more  valie  on  the  scalp  of  a  fellow-mortal 
than  on  the  horns  of  a  buck." 

"Well,  Deerslayer,  I'm  not  one  of  them,"  answered 
Hetty,  simply;  "Judith  likes  soldiers,  and  flary  coats, 
and  fine  feathers  ;  but  they  make  me  shudder,  for  their 
business  is  to  kill  their-  fellow-creatures.  I  like  your  calling 
better ;  and  your  last  name  is  a  very  good  one." 


THE  SURPRISE  43 

An  interruption  was  put  to  this  conversation  by  the  sud 
den  appearance  of  the  canoe  of  the  ark's  owner.  H utter 's 
reception  of  Hurry  Harry  was  such  as  to  denote  pleasure, 
mingled  with  a  little  disappointment  at  his  not  having 
made  his  appearance  some  days  sooner. 

"  I  looked  for  you  last  week,"  he  said,  in  a  half-grum 
bling,  half- welcoming  manner  ;  "and  was  disappointed  un 
commonly  that  you  did  n't  arrive.  There  came  a  runner 
through,  to  warn  all  the  trappers  and  hunters  that  the 
colony  and  the  Canadas  were  again  in  trouble ;  and  I  felt 
lonesome,  up  in  these  mountains,  with  three  scalps  to  see 
to,  and  only  one  pair  of  hands  to  protect  them." 

"That's  reasonable,"  returned  March;  "and  'twas 
feeling  like  a  parent.  No  doubt,  if  I  had  two  such  dar 
ters  as  Judith  and  Hetty,  my  exper'ence  would  tell  the 
same  story,  though  in  gin'ral  I  am  just  as  well  satisfied 
with  having  the  nearest  neighbor  fifty  miles  off,  as  when 
he  is  within  call." 

"  Notwithstanding,  you  did  n't  choose  to  come  into  the 
wilderness  alone,  now  you  knew  that  the  Canada  savages 
are  likely  to  be  stirring,"  returned  Hutter,  giving  a  sort 
of  distrustful,  and  at  the  same  time  inquiring  glance  at 
Deerslayer. 

"  Why  should  I  ?  They  say  a  bad  companion,  on  a 
journey,  helps  to  shorten  the  path  ;  and  this  young  man 
I  account  to  be  a  reasonably  good  one.  This  is  Deer- 
slayer,  old  Tom,  a  noted  hunter  among  the  Delawares, 
Christian-born,  and  Christian-edicated,  too.  Should  we 
have  occasion  to  defend  our  traps,  and  the  territory,  he  '11 
be  useful  in  feeding  us  all ;  for  he 's  a  reg'lar  dealer 
in  ven'son." 


44  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"Young  man,  you  are  welcome,"  growled  Tom,  thrust 
ing  a  hard,  bony  hand  towards  the  youth,  as  a  pledge  of 
his  sincerity ;  "in  such  times,  a  white  face  is  a  friend's, 
and  I  count  on  you  as  a  support.  Children  sometimes 
make  a  stout  heart  feeble,  and  these  two  daughters^  of 
mine  give  me  more  concern  than  all  my  traps,  and  skins, 
and  rights  in  the  country." 

"That's  nat'ral ! "  cried  Hurry.  "Yes,  Deerslayer, 
you  and  I  don't  know  it  yet  by  experience  ;  but,  on  the 
whole,  I  consider  that  as  nat'ral.  If  we  had  darters, 
it 's  more  than  probable  we  should  have  some  such  feel- 
in's,  and  I  honor  the  man  that  owns  'em.  As  for  Ju 
dith,  old  man,  I  enlist  at  once  as  her  soldier,  and  here  is 
Deerslayer  to  help  you  to  take  care  of  Hetty." 

"  Many  thanks  to  you,  Master  March,"  returned  the 
beauty,  in  a  full,  rich  voice,  "many  thanks  to  you;  but 
Judith  H utter  has  the  spirit  and  the  experience  that  will 
make  her  depend  more  on  herself  than  on  good-looking 
rovers  like  you.  Should  there  be  need  to  face  the  sav 
ages,  do  you  land  with  my  father,  instead  of  burrowing 
in  the  huts,  under  the  show  of  defending  us  females, 
and—" 

"Girl  —  girl,"  interrupted  the  father,  "quiet  that  glib 
tongue  of  thine,  and  hear  the  truth.  There  are  savages 
on  the  lake  shore  already,  and  no  man  can  say  how  near 
to  us  they  may  be  at  this  very  moment,  or  when  we  may 
hear  more  from  them  !  " 

"  If  this  be  true,  Master  Hutter,"  said  Hurry,  whose 
change  of  countenance  denoted  how  serious  he  deemed  the 
information,  "your  ark  is  in  a  most  misfortunate  position, 
for,  though  the  cover  did  deceive  Deerslayer  and  myself, 


THE  SURPRISE  45 

it  would  hardly  be  overlooked  by  a  full-blooded  Injin, 
who  was  out  seriously  in  s'arch  of  scalps!" 

"  I  think  as  you  do,  Hurry,  and  wish,  with  all  my 
heart,  we  lay  anywhere  else,  at  this  moment,  than  in  this 
narrow,  crooked  stream,  which  has  many  advantages  to 
hide  in,  but  which  is  almost  fatal  to  them'  that  are  dis 
covered.  The  savages  are  near  us,  moreover,  and  the 
difficulty  is,  to  get  out  of  the  river  without  being  shot 
down  like  deer  standing  at  a  lick!" 

"  Are  you  sartain,  Master  Hutter,  that  the  redskins  you 
dread  are,raal  Canadas  ?  "  asked  Deerslayer,  in  a  modest 
but  earnest  manner.  "  Have  you  seen  any,  and  can  you 
describe  their  paint  ?  " 

"  I  have  fallen  in  with  the  signs  of  their  being  in  the 
neighborhood,  but  have  seen  none  of  'em.  I  was  down 
stream  a  mile  or  so,  looking  to  my  traps,  when  I  struck 
a  fresh  trail,  crossing  the  corner  of  a  swamp,  and  moving 
northward.  The  man  had  not  passed  an  hour ;  and  I 
know'd  it  for  an  Indian  footstep,  by  the  size  of  the  foot, 
and  the  intoe,  even  before  I  found  a  worn  moccasin, 
which  its  owner  had  dropped  as  useless.  For  that  matter, 
I  found  the  spot  where  he  halted  to  make  a  new  one, 
which  was  only  a  few  yards  from  the  place  where  he  had 
dropped  the  old  one." 

"That  doesn't  look  much  like  a  redskin  on  the  war 
path  !  "  returned  the  other,  shaking  his  head.  "  An  expe- 
r'enced  warrior,  at  least,  would  have  burned,  or  buried,  or 
sunk  in  the  river  such  signs  of  his  passage  ;  and  your  trail 
is,  quite  likely,  a  peaceable  trail.  But  the  moccasin  may 
greatly  relieve  my  mind,  if  you  bethought  you  of  bringing 
it  off.  I  've  come  here  to  meet  a  young  chief  myself  ;  and 


46  THE  DEERSLAYER 

his  course  would  be  much  in  the  direction  you  've  men 
tioned.  The  trail  may  have  been  his'n." 

"  Hurry  Harry,  you  're  well  acquainted  with  this  young 
man,  I  hope,  who  has  meetings  with  savages  in  a  part  of 
the  country  where  he  has  never  been  before  ?  "  demanded 
Hutter,  in  a  tone  and  in  a  manner  that  sufficiently  indi 
cated  the  motive  of  the  question.  "  Treachery  is  an 
Indian  virtue ;  and  the  whites,  that  live  much  in  their 
tribes,  soon  catch  their  ways  and  practices." 

"True  —  true  as  the  Gospel,  old  Tom;  but  not  per 
sonable  to  Deerslayer,  who  's  a  young  man  of,  truth,  if 
he  has  no  other  ricommend.  I  '11  answer  for  his  honesty, 
whatever  I  may  do  for  his  valor  in  battle." 

"  I  should  like  to  know  his  errand  in  this  strange 
quarter  of  the  country." 

"That  is  soon  told,  Master  Hutter,"  said  the  young 
man  calmly.  "  I  think,  moreover,  you  've  a  right  to  ask 
it.  The  father  of  two  such  darters,  who  occupies  a  lake, 
after  your  fashion,  has  a  right  to  inquire  into  a  stranger's 
business  in  his  neighborhood,  especially  in  times  as  seri 
ous  as  these.  So  here  it  is,  and  soon  and  honestly  told. 
I  'm  a  young  man,  and,  as  yet,  have  never  been  on  a 
warpath  ;  but  no  sooner  did  the  news  come  among  the 
Delawares  that  wampum  and  a  hatchet  were  about  to 
be  sent  in  to  the  tribe,  than  they  wished  me  to  go  out 
among  the  people  of  my  own  color,  and  get  the  exact 
state  of  things  for  'em.  This  I  did,  and,  after  delivering 
my  talk  to  the  chiefs,  on  my  return  I  met  an  officer  of 
the  crown  on  the  Schoharie,  who  had  moneys  to  send  to 
some  of  the  friendly  tribes  that  live  further  west.  This 
was  thought  a  good  occasion  for  Chingachgook,  a  young 


THE  SURPRISE  47 

chief  who  had  never  struck  a  foe,  and  myself,  to  go  on 
our  first  warpath  in  company ;  and  an  app'intment  was 
made  for  us,  by  an  old  Delaware,  to  meet  at  the  rock 
near  the  foot  of  this  lake.  I  '11  not  deny  that  Chingach- 
gook  has  another  object  in  view,  but  it  has  no  consarn 
with  any  here,  and  is  his  secret,  and  not  mine ;  therefore 
I  '11  say  no  more  about  it.  Chingachgook  is  to  meet  me 
at  the  rock  an  hour  afore  sunset  to-morrow  evening,  after 
which  we  shall  go  our  way  together,  molesting  none  but 
the  king's  inimies,  who  are  lawfully  our  own.  Knowing 
Hurry  of  old,  who  once  trapped  in  our  hunting-grounds, 
and  falling  in  with  him  on  the  Schoharie,  just  as  he  was 
on  the  p'int  of  starting  for  his  summer  ha'nts,  we  agreed 
to  journey  in  company  ;  not  so  much  from  fear  of  the  Min- 
gos  as  from  good  fellowship,  and,  as  he  says,  to  shorten  a 
long  road." 

"And  you  think  the  trail  I  saw  may  have  been  that 
of  your  friend,  ahead  of  his  time  ?  "  said  Hutter. 

"  That 's  my  idee  ;  which  may  be  wrong,  but  which 
may  be  right.  If  I  saw  the  moccasin,  however,  I  could 
tell  in  a  minute  whether  it  is  made  in  the  Delaware  fash 
ion  or  not." 

"  Here  it  is,  then,"  said  the  quick-witted  Judith,  who 
had  already  gone  to  the  canoe  in  quest  of  it;  "tell  us 
what  it  says ;  friend  or  enemy.  You  look  honest ;  and  / 
believe  all  you  say,  whatever  father  may  think." 

"  That 's  the  way  with  you,  Jude ;  forever  finding  out 
friends,  where  I  distrust  foes,"  grumbled  Tom;  "but, 
speak  out,  young  man,  and  tell  us  what  you  think  of 
the  moccasin." 

"That's    not    Delaware-made,"    returned    Deerslayer, 


48  THE  DEERSLAYER 

examining  the  worn  and  rejected  covering  for  the  foot  with 
a  cautious  eye  ;  "  I  'm  too  young  on  a  warpath  to  be  posi 
tive,  but  I  should  say  that  moccasin  has  a  northern  look, 
and  comes  from  beyond  the  great  lakes." 

"  If  such  is  the  case,  we  ought  not  to  lie  here  a  minute 
longer  than  is  necessary,"  said  H utter,  glancing  through 
the  leaves  of  his  cover,  as  if  he  already  distrusted  the 
presence  of  an  enemy  on  the  opposite  shore  of  the  nar 
row  and  sinuous  stream.  "  It  wants  but  an  hour  or  so 
of  night,  and  to  move  in  the  dark  will  be  impossible, 
without  making  a  noise  that  would  betray  us.  Did  you 
hear  the  echo  of  a  piece  in  the  mountains,  half-an-hour 
since  ? " 

"Yes,  old  man,  and  heard  the  piece  itself,"  answered 
Hurry,  who  now  felt  the  indiscretion  of  which  he  had 
been  guilty,  "  for  the  last  was  fired  from  my  own 
shoulder." 

"  I  feared  it  came  from  the  French  Indians ;  still  it 
may  put  them  on  the  lookout,  and  be  a  means  of  discov 
ering  us.  You  did  wrong  to  fire  in  war  time,  unless  there 
was  good  occasion." 

"  So  I  begin  to  think  myself,  Uncle  Tom  ;  and  yet,  if 
a  man  can't  trust  himself  to  let  off  his  rifle  in  a  wilder 
ness  that  is  a  thousand  miles  square,  lest  some  inimy 
should  hear  it,  where  's  the  use  in  carrying  one  ?  " 

Hutter  now  held  a  long  consultation  with  his  two 
guests,  in  which  the  parties  came  to  a  true  understanding 
of  their  situation.  He  explained  the  difficulty  that  would 
exist  in  attempting  to  get  the  ark  out  of  so  swift  and 
narrow  a  stream,  in  the  dark,  without  making  a  noise 
that  could  not  fail  to  attract  Indian  ears. 


THE  SURPRISE 


49 


"  I  never  drop  down  into  this  cover,  which  is  handy 
to  my  traps,  and  safer  than  the  lake,  from  curious  eyes, 
without  providing  the  means  of  getting  out  agin,"  he 
continued ;  "  and  that  is  easier  done  by  a  pull  than  a 
push.  My  anchor  is  now  lying  above  the  suction,  in  the 
open  lake  ;  and  here  is  a  line,  you  see,  to  haul  us  up  to 
it.  Without  some  such  help,  a  single  pair  of  hands  would 
make  heavy  work  in  forcing  a  scow  like  this  up  stream. 
I  have  a  sort  of  a  crab,  too,  that  lightens  the  pull,  on  occa 
sion.  Jude  can  use  the  oar  astarn  as  well  as  myself ;  and 
when  we  fear  no  enemy,  to  get  out  of  the  river  gives  us 
but  little  trouble." 

"Well,  old  Tom,"  cried  Hurry,  "if  we  are  to  move, 
the  sooner  we  make  a  beginning,  the  sooner  we  shall  know 
whether  we  are  to  have  our  scalps  for  nightcaps,  or  not." 

The,  three  men  now  set  about  their  preparations  to  move 
the  arkf^The  slight  fastenings  were  quickly  loosened  ;  and, 
by  hauling  on  the  line,  the  heavy  craft  slowly  emerged  from 
the  cover.  It  was  no  sooner  free  from  the  incumbrance 
of  the  branches,  than  it  swung  into  the  stream,  —  sheering 
quite  close  to  the  western  shore,  by  the  force  of  the  current. 
Not  a  soul  on  board  heard  the  rustling  of  the  branches,  as 
the  cabin  came  against  the  bushes  and  trees  of  the  west 
ern  bank,  without  a  feeling  of  uneasiness  ;  for  no  one  knew 
at  what  moment,  or  in  what  place,  a  secret  and  murderous 
enemy  might  unmask  himself.  Perhaps  the  gloomy  light 
that  still  struggled  through  the  impending  canopy  of  leaves, 
or  found 'its  way  through  the  narrow,  ribbon-like  opening, 
which  seemed  to  mark  in  the  air  above  the  course  of  the 
river  that  flowed  beneath,  aided  in  augmenting  the  appear 
ance  of  the  danger ;  for  it  was  little  more  than  sufficient 


50  THE  DEERSLAYER 

to  render  objects  visible,  without  giving  up  all  their  outlines 
at  a  glance. 

No  interruption  followed  the  movement,  however,  and, 
as  the  men  continued  to  haul  on  the  line,  the  ark  passed 
steadily  ahead,  the  great  breadth  of  the  scow  preventing 
its  sinking  into  the  water,  and  from  offering  much  resist 
ance  to  the  progress  of  the  swift  element  beneath  its  bottom. 
H utter,  too,  had  adopted  a  precaution  suggested  by  expe 
rience,  which  might  have  done  credit  to  a  seaman,  and 
which  completely  prevented  any  of  the  annoyances  and 
obstacles  which  otherwise  would  have  attended  the  short 
turns  of  the  river.  As  the  ark  descended,  heavy  stones, 
attached  to  the  line,  were  dropped  in  the  centre  of  the 
stream,  forming  local  anchors,  each  of  which  was  kept, 
from  dragging  by  the  assistance  of  those  above  it,  until 
the  uppermost  of  all  was  reached,  which  got  its  "  backing  " 
from  the  anchor  that  lay  well  out  in  the  lake.  In  conse 
quence  of  this  expedient,  the  ark  floated  clear  of  the  in- 
cumbrances  of  the  shore,  against  which  it  would  otherwise 
have  been  unavoidably  hauled  at  every  turn,  producing 
embarrassments  that  Hutter,  single-handed,  would  have 
found  it  very  difficult  to  overcome. 

At  every  turn  in  the  stream  a  stone  was  raised  from  the 
bottom,  when  the  direction  of  the  scow  changed  to  one 
that  pointed  towards  the  stone  that  lay  above.  In  this 
manner  did  Hutter  move  forward  with  fair  rapidity,  —  oc 
casionally  urging  his  friends,  in  a  low  and  guarded  voice, 
to  increase  their  exertions,  and  then,  as  occasions  offered, 
warning  them  against  efforts  that  might,  at  particular  mo 
ments,  endanger  all  by  too  much  zeal.  In  spite  of  their 
long  familiarity  with  the  woods,  the  gloomy  character  of 


THE  SURPRISE  51 

the  shaded  river  added  to  the  uneasiness  that  each  felt ; 
and  when  the  ark  reached  the  first  bend  in  the  Susque- 
hannah,  and  the  eye  caught  a  glimpse  of  the  broader  ex 
panse  of  the  lake,  all  felt  a  relief  that  perhaps  none  would 
have  been  willing  to  confess.  Here  the  last  stone  was 
raised  from  the  bottom,  and  the  line  led  directly  towards 
the  grapnel,  which,  as  H utter  had  explained,  was  dropped 
above  the  suction  of  the  current. 

"Thank  God!"  ejaculated  Hurry,  "there  is  daylight, 
and  we  shall  soon  have  a  chance  of  seeing  our  inimies,  if 
we  are  to  feel  'em." 

"  That  is  more  than  you  or  any  man  can  say,"  growled 
Hutter.  "  There  is  no  spot  so  likely  to  harbor  a  party  as 
the  shore  around  the  outlet ;  and  the  moment  we  clear 
these  trees  and  get  into  open  water  will  be  the  most  trying 
time,  since  it  will  leave  the  enemy  a  cover,  while  it  puts 
us  out  of  one.  Judith,  girl,  do  you  and  Hetty  leave  the 
oar  to  take  care  of  itself,  and  go  within  the  cabin  ;  and 
be  mindful  not  to  show  your  faces  at  a  window  ;  for  they 
who  will  look  at  them  won't  stop  to  praise  their  beauty. 
And  now,  Hurry,  we  '11  step  into  this  outer  room  our 
selves,  and  haul  through  the  door,  where  we  shall  all  be 
safe,  from  a  surprise,  at  least.  Friend  Deerslayer,  as  the 
current  is  lighter,  and  the  line  has  all  the  strain  on  it  that 
is  prudent,  do  you  keep  moving  from  window  to  window, 
taking  care  not  to  let  your  head  be  seen,  if  you  set  any 
value  on  life.  No  one  knows  when  or  where  we  shall- 
hear  from  our  neighbors." 

As  Deerslayer  took  his  stand  at  a  window,  the  ark  was 
just  passing  through  the  narrowest  part  of  the  stream,  a 
point  where  the  water  first  entered  what  was  properly 


52  THE  DEERSLAYER 

termed  the  river,  and  where  the  trees  fairly  interlocked 
overhead.  It  had  reached  the  last  curve  of  this  leafy  en 
trance  when,  having  examined  all  that  could  be  seen  of 
the  eastern  bank  of  the  river,  he  crossed  the  room  to  look 
from  the  opposite  window,  at  the  western.  His  arrival  at 
this  aperture  was  most  opportune,  for  he  had  no  sooner 
placed  his  eye  at  a  crack  than  a  sight  met  his  eye  that 
might  well  have  alarmed  a  sentinel.  At  this  point  a  sap 
ling  overhung  the  water  in  nearly  a  half  circle,  and  on  this 
branch  no  less  than  six  Indians  had  already  appeared, 
others  standing  ready  to  follow  them  as  they  left  room ; 
each  evidently  bent  on  running  out  on  the  trunk,  and 
dropping  on  the  roof  of  the  ark  as  it  passed  beneath. 
This  would  have  been  an  exploit  of  no  great  difficulty,  for 
the  curve  of  the  tree  was  such  as  to  make  the  fall  trifling. 
When  Deerslayer  first  saw  this  party,  his  knowledge  of 
Indian  habits  told  him  at  once  that  they  were  all  in 
war-paint,  and  belonged  to  a  hostile  tribe. 

"  Pull,  Hurry,  "  he  cried ;  "  pull  for  your  life  !  Pull, 
man,  pull !  " 

This  call  was  made  to  one  that  the  young  man  knew 
had  the  strength  of  a  giant.  It  was  so  earnest  that  both 
Hutter  and  March  felt  it  was  not  idly  given,  and  they  ap 
plied  all  their  force  to  the  line.  The  scow  redoubled  its 
motion,  and  seemed  to  glide  from  under  the  tree  as  if 
conscious  of  the  danger  that  was  impending  overhead. 
Perceiving  that  they  were  discovered,  the  Indians  uttered 
a  fearful  war-whoop,  and  running  forward  on  the  tree, 
leaped  desperately  toward  their  fancied  prize.  There  were 
six  on  the  tree,  and  each  made  the  effort.  All  but  their 
leader  fell  into  the  river  more  or  less  Distant  from  the 


THE  SURPRISE  53 

ark,  when  they  came  to  their  turn  at  the  leaping-place. 
The  chief,  however,  who  was  farthest  out  on  the  tree,  and 
therefore  first  to  leap,  struck  the  scow  just  within  the  stern. 
For  a  moment  he  lay,  slightly  stunned  by  the  fall,  and  in 
this  brief  interval,  Judith  rushed  from  the  cabin,  and, 
throwing  all  her  strength  into  the  effort,  she  pushed  the 
intruder  over  the  edge  of  the  scow  headlong  into  the  river. 
All  this  occupied  less  than  a  minute,  when  the  arm  of 
Deerslayer  was  thrown  around  her  waist,  and  she  was 
dragged  swiftly  within  the  protection  of  the  cabin.  This 
retreat  was  not  effected  too  soon.  Scarcely  were  the  two 
in  safety,  when  the  forest  was  filled  with  yells,  and  bullets 
began  to  patter  against  the  logs. 

The  ark  being  in  swift  motion  all  this  while,  it  was 
already  beyond  danger  of  pursuit.  H utter  and  March 
now  got  out  two  small  sweeps,  and  covered  by  the  cabin, 
they  soon  urged  it  far  enough  from  the  shore  to  be 
entirely  safe  from  exposure  to  rifle  bullets,  the  only  means 
which,  without  a  boat,  their  enemies  had  of  injuring 
them. 

CHAPTER  V 

As  soon  as  they  were  fairly  out  in  the  open  lake  a 
consultation  took  place  in  the  forward  part  of  the  scow. 
All  were  now  convinced  that  enemies  were,  in  consider 
able  force,  on  the  shores  of  the  lake,  and  that  no  practicable 
means  of  accomplishing  their  own  destruction  would  be 
neglected.  As  a  matter  of  course,  Hutter  felt  these  truths 
the  deepest,  his  daughters  having  an  habitual  reliance  on 
his  resources,  and  knowing  too  little  to  appreciate  fully  all 
the  risks  they  ran  ;  while  his  male  companions  were  at 
liberty  to  quit  him  at  any  moment  they  saw  fit. 


54  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  We  've  a  great  advantage  over  the  Iroquois,  or  the 
enemy,  whoever  they  are,  in  being  afloat,"  he  began. 
"  There  's  not  a  canoe  on  the  lake  that  I  don't  know 
where  it 's  hid ;  and  now  yours  is  here,  Hurry,  there  are 
but  three  more  on  the  land,  and  they  're  so  snug  in 
hollow  logs  that  I  don't  believe  the  Indians  could  find 
them,  let  them  try  ever  so  long." 

"There's  no  telling  that  —  no  one  can  say  that,"  put 
in  Deerslayer ;  "a  hound  is  not  more  sartain  on  the 
scent  than  a  redskin,  when  he  expects  to  get  anything 
by  it.  Let  this  party  see  scalps  afore  'em,  or  plunder,  and 
'twill  be  a  tight  log  that  hides  a  canoe  from  their  eyes." 

"You  're  right,  Deerslayer,"  cried  Harry  March;  "you're 
downright  Gospel  in  this  matter,  and  I  rej'ice  that  my 
bunch  of  bark  is  safe  enough  here,  within  reach  of  my 
arm.  I  calcilate  they  '11  be  at  all  the  rest  of  the  canoes 
afore  to-morrow  night,  if  they  are  in  raal  'arnest  to  smoke 
you  out,  old  Tom,  and  we  may  as  well  overhaul  our  pad 
dles  for  a  pull." 

Hutter  made  no  immediate  reply.  He  looked  about 
him  in  silence  for  quite  a  minute,  examining  the  sky, 
the  lake,  and  the  belt  of  forest  which  inclosed  it  like 
one  consulting  their  signs.  Nor  did  he  find  any  alarming 
symptoms.  The  boundless  woods  were  sleeping  in  the 
deep  repose  of  nature,  the  heavens  were  placid,  but  still 
luminous  with  the  light  of  the  retreating  sun,  while  the 
lake  looked  more  lovely  and  calm  than  it  had  before  done 
that  day. 

M  Judith,"  called  out  the  father,  when  he  had  taken  this 
close  but  short  survey  of  the  omens,  "  night  is  at  hand  ; 
find  our  friends  food  ;  a  long  march  gives  a  sharp  appetite." 


THE  SURPRISE  55 

11  We're  not  starving,  Master  Hutter,"  March  observed, 
"  for  we  filled  up  just  as  we  reached  the  lake,  and  for  one, 
I  prefar  the  company  of  Jude  even  to  her  supper." 

11  Natur'  is  natur',''  objected  Hutter,  "and  must  be  fed. 
Judith,  see  to  the  meal,  and  take  your  sister  to  help  you. 
I  've  a  little  discourse  to  hold  with  you,  friends,"  he  contin 
ued,  as  soon  as  his  daughters  were  out  of  hearing,  "and 
wish  the  girls  away.  You  see  my  situation,  and  I  should 
like  to  hear  your  opinions  concerning  what  is  best  to  be 
done.  Three  times  have  I  been  burnt  out  already,  but 
that  was  on  the  shore ;  and  I  Ve  considered  myself  as  pretty 
safe  ever  since  I  got  the  castle  built,  and  the  ark  afloat. 
My  other  accidents,  however,  happened  in  peaceable  times, 
being  nothing  more  than  such  flurries  as  a  man  must 
meet  with,  in  the  woods ;  but  this  matter  looks  serious, 
and  your  ideas  would  greatly  relieve  my  mind." 

"  It 's  my  notion,  old  Tom,  that  you,  and  your  huts,  and 
your  traps,  and  your  whole  possessions,  hereaway,  are  in 
desperate  jippardy,"  returned  the  matter-of-fact  Hurry, 
who  saw  no  use  in  concealment.  "  Accordin'  to  my  idees 
of  valie,  they  're  altogether  not  worth  half  as  much  to-day 
as  they  was  yesterday,  nor  would  I  give  more  for  'em, 
taking  the  pay  in  skins." 

"  I  see,  Harry  March,  I  can  only  count  on  you  as  a 
fair-weather  friend  ;  and  I  suppose  that  your  companion 
will  be  of  the  same  way  of  thinking,"  returned  the  other, 
with  a  slight  show  of  pride,  that  was  not  altogether  with 
out  dignity ;  "  well,  I  must  depend  on  Providence,  which 
will  not  turn  a  deaf  ear,  perhaps,  to  a  father's  prayers." 

"  If  you  've  understood  Hurry,  here,  to  mean  that  he 
intends  to  desart  you,"  said  Deerslayer,  with  an  earnest 


56  THE  DEERSLAYER 

simplicity  that  gave  double  assurance  of  its  truth,  "I  think 
you  do  him  injustice,  as  I  know  you  do  me,  in  supposing 
I  would  follow  him  was  he  so  ontrue-hearted  as  to  leave  a 
family  of  his  own  color  in  such  a  strait  as  this.  I  've  come 
on  this  lake,  Master  Hutter,  to  rende'vous  a  fri'nd,  and  I 
only  wish  he  was  here  himself,  as  I  make  no  doubt  he  will 
be  at  sunset  to-morrow,  when  you  'd  have  another  rifle  to 
aid  you ;  an  inexper'enced  one,  I  '11  allow,  like  my  own, 
but  one  that  has  proved  true  so  often  agin  the  game, 
big  and  little,  that  I  '11  answer  for  its  sarvice  agin  mortals." 

"  May  I  depend  on  you  to  stand  by  me  and  my  daugh 
ters,  then,  Deerslayer  ?  "  demanded  the  old  man. 

"  That  may  you,  Floating  Tom,  if  that 's  your  name ; 
in  this  strait  you  may  count  on  me,  through  all  advarsi- 
ties ;  and  I  think  Hurry  does  discredit  to  his  natur'  and 
wishes,  if  you  can't  count  on  him." 

"  Not  he,"  cried  Judith,  thrusting  her  handsome  face 
out  of  the  door ;  "his  nature  is  hurry,  as  well  as  his 
name,  and  he  '11  hurry  off,  as  soon  as  he  thinks  his  fine 
figure  in  danger.  Neither  'old  Tom,'  nor  his  'gals,'  will 
depend  much  on  Master  March,  now  they  know  him,  but 
you  they  will  rely  on,  Deerslayer ;  for  your  honest  face 
and  honest  heart  tell  us  that  what  you  promise  you  will 
perform." 

This  was  said,  as  much,  perhaps,  in  affected  scorn  for 
Hurry,  as  in  sincerity.  Still,  it  was  not  said  without 
feeling. 

"Leave  us,  Judith,"  Hutter  ordered  sternly,  before 
either  of  the  young  men  could  reply ;  "  leave  us  ;  and  do 
not  return  until  you  come  with  the  venison  and  fish.  The 
girl  has  been  spoilt  by  the  flattery  of  the  officers,  who 


THE  SURPRISE  57 

sometimes  find  their  way  up  here,  Master  March,  and 
you  '11  not  think  any  harm  of  her  silly  words." 

"You  never  said  truer  syllable,  old  Tom,"  retorted 
Hurry,  who  smarted  under  Judith's  observations;  "the 
devil-torkgued  youngsters  of  the  garrison  have  proved  her 
undoing !  I  scarce  know  Jude  any  longer.  But  no  matter  ; 
Deerslayer  has  not  misconceived  me,  when  he  told  you  I 
should  be  found  at  my  post.  I  '11  not  quit  you,  Uncle  Tom, 
just  now,  whatever  may  be  my  feelin's  and  intentions 
respecting  your  eldest  darter." 

Hurry  had  a  respectable  reputation  for  prowess  among 
his  associates,  and  Hutter  heard  this  pledge  with  a  satis 
faction  that  was  not  concealed.  Even  the  great  personal 
strength  of  such  an  aid  became  of  moment,  in  moving  the 
ark,  as  well  as  in  the  species  of  hand-to-hand  conflicts 
that  were  not  unfrequent  in  the  woods.  A  minute  before, 
Hutter  would  have  been  well  content  to  compromise  his 
danger,  by  entering  into  a  compact  to  act  only  on  the  de 
fensive  ;  but  no  sooner  did  he  feel  some  security  on  this 
point,  than  the  restlessness  of  man  induced  him  to  think 
of  the  means  of  carrying  the  war  into  the  enemy's  country. 

"  High  prices  are  offered  for  scalps  on  both  sides,"  he 
observed,  with  a  grim  smile.  "  It  isn't  right,  perhaps,  to 
take  gold  for  human  blood ;  and  yet,  when  mankind  is 
busy  in  killing  one  another,  there  can  be  no  great  harm 
in  adding  a  little  bit  of  skin  to  the  plunder.  What 's  your 
sentiments,  Hurry,  touching  these  p'ints  ?  " 

"  That  you  've  made  a  vast  mistake,  old  man,  in  calling 
savage  blood  human  blood,  at  all.  I  think  no  more  of  a 
redskin's  scalp  than  I  do  of  a  pair  of  wolf's  ears ;  and 
would  just  as  lief  finger  money  for  the  one  as  for  the 


58  THE  DEERSLAYER 

/ 

other.  With  white  people  't  is  different,  for  they  've  a 
nat'ral  avarsion  to  being  scalped  ;  whereas  your  Indian 
shaves  his  head  in  readiness  for  the  knife,  and  leaves  a 
lock  of  hair  by  way  of  braggadocio,  that  one  can  lay  hold 
of  in  the  bargain." 

"  That 's  manly,  however,  and  I  felt  from  the  first  that 
we  had  only  to  get  you  on  our  side,  to  have  you  heart 
and  hand,"  returned  Tom,  losing  all  his  reserve,  as  he 
gained  a  renewed  confidence  in  the  disposition  of  his 
companion.  "  Something  more  may  turn  up  from  this  in 
road  of  the  redskins  than  they  bargained  for.  Deerslayer, 
I  conclude  you  're  of  Hurry's  way  of  thinking,  and  look 
upon  money  'arned  in  this  way  as  being  as  likely  to  pass 
as  money  'arned  in  trapping  or  hunting." 

"  I  've  no  such  feelin',  nor  any  wish  to  harbor  it,  not 
I,"  returned  the  other.  "  My  gifts  are  not  scalpers'  gifts, 
but  such  as  belong  to  my  religion  and  color.  I  '11  stand  by 
you,  old  man,  in  the  ark  or  in  the  castle,  the  canoe  or  the 
woods,  but  I  '11  not  unhumanize  my  natur'  by  falling  into 
ways  that  God  intended  for  another  race.  If  you  and 
Hurry  have  got  any  thoughts  that  lean  towards  the  col 
ony's  gold,  go  by  yourselves  in  s'arch  of  it,  and  leave  the 
females  to  my  care." 

"  The  young  man  is  right,  Hurry,"  replied  Tom  ;  "  and 
we  can  leave  the  children  in  his  care.  Now,  my  idea  is  just 
this ;  and  I  think  you  '11  agree  that  it  is  rational  and  cor 
rect.  There  's  a  large  party  of  these  savages  on  the  shore, 
and,  though  I  did  n't  tell  it  before  the  girls,  for  they  're 
womanish,  and  apt  to  be  troublesome  when  anything  like 
real  work  is  to  be  done,  there  's  women  among  'em.  This 
I  know  from  moccasin  prints ;  and  't  is  likely  they  are 


THE  SURPRISE  59 

hunters,  after  all,  who  have  been  out  so  long  that  they 
know  nothing  of  the  war,  or  of  the  bounties." 

"  In  which  case,  old  Tom,  why  was  their  first  salute  an 
attempt  to  cut  all  our  throats  ?  " 

"  We  don't  know  that  their  design  was  so  bloody.  It 's 
natural  and  easy  for  an  Indian  to  fall  into  ambushes  and 
surprises,  —  and,  no  doubt,  they  wished  to  get  on  board 
the  ark  first,  and  to  make  their  conditions  afterwards. 
That  a  disap'inted  savage  should  fire  at  us  is  in  rule ; 
and  I  think  nothing  of  that.  Besides,  how  often  have  they 
burned  me  out,  and  robbed  my  traps  —  aye,  and  pulled 
trigger  on  me,  in  the  most  peaceful  times  ?  " 

''The  blackguards  will  do  such  things,  I  must  allow; 
and  we  pay  'em  off  pretty  much  in  their  own  coin.  Women 
would  not  be  on  the  warpath,  sartainly  ;  and,  so  far,  there  's 
reason  in  your  idee." 

"  Nor  would  a  hunter  be  in  his  war-paint,"  returned 
Deerslayer.  "  I  saw  the  Mingos,  and  know  that  they  are 
out  on  the  trail  of  mortal  men ;  and  not  for  beaver  or  deer." 

"  There  you  have  it  agin,  old  fellow,"  said  Hurry.  "  In 
the  way  of  an  eye,  now,  I  'd  as  soon  trust  this  young  man, 
as  trust  the  oldest  settler  in  the  colony ;  if  he  says  paint, 
why  paint  it  was." 

"  Then  a  hunting-party  and  a  war-party  have  met,  for 
women  must  have  been  with  'em.  It 's  only  a  few  days 
since  the  runner  went  through  with  the  tidings  of  the 
troubles ;  and  it  may  be  that  warriors  have  come  out  to 
call  in  their  women  and  children,  to  get  an  early  blow." 

"That  would  stand  the  courts,  and  is  just  the  truth," 
cried  Hurry ;  "  you  've  got  it  now,  old  Tom,  and  I  should 
like  to  hear  what  you  mean  to  make  out  of  it." 


60  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"The  bounty,"  returned  the  other,  in  a  cool,  sullen 
manner.  "  If  there  's  women,  there  's  children  ;  and  big 
and  little  have  scalps  ;  the  colony  pays  for  all  alike." 

"  More  shame  to  it,  that  it  should  do  so,"  interrupted 
Deerslayer ;  "  more  shame  to  it,  that  it  don't  understand 
its  gifts,  and  pay  greater  attention  to  the  will  of  God." 

"  You  must  fight  a  man  with  his  own  we'pons,  Deer- 
slayer,"  shouted  Hurry;  "if  he's  fierce,  you  must  be 
fiercer,  and  there  's  an  end  of  it." 

The  disdainful  manner  of  Hurry  prevented  a  reply, 
and  he  and  the  old  man  resumed  the  discussion  of  their 
plans  in  a  more  quiet  and  confidential  manner.  This  con 
fidence  lasted  until  Judith  appeared,  bearing  the  simple 
but  savory  supper,  of  which  all  partook  with  hearty  satis 
faction. 

An  hour  later  the  scene  had  greatly  changed.  The  lake 
was  still  placid  and  glassy,  but  the  gloom  of  the  hour  had 
succeeded  to  the  soft  twilight  of  a  summer  evening,  and 
all  within  the  dark  setting  of  the  woods  lay  in  the  quiet 
repose  of  night.  The  forests  gave  up  no  song,  or  cry, 
or  even  murmur,  but  looked  down  from  the  hills  on 
the  lovely  basin  they  encircled,  in  solemn  stillness ;  and 
the  only  sound  that  was  audible  was  the  regular  dip  of  the 
sweeps,  at  which  Hurry  and  Deerslayer  lazily  pushed,  im 
pelling  the  ark  towards  the  castle.  Hutter  had  withdrawn 
to  the  stern  of  the  scow,  in  order  to  steer,  but,  finding 
that  the  young  men  kept  even  strokes  and  held  the  de 
sired  course  by  their  own  skill,  he  permitted  the  oar  to 
drag  in  the  water,  took  a  seat  on  the  end  of  the  vessel  and 
lighted  his  pipe.  He  had  not  been  thus  placed  many  min 
utes,  ere  Hetty  came  out  of  the  cabin,  and  placed  herself 


THE  SURPRISE  6 1 

at  his  feet,  on  a  little  bench  that  she  brought  with  her. 
The  old  man  welcomed  her  by  an  affectionate  gesture, 
placing  his  hand  kindly  on  her  head  ;  an  act  that  she 
received  in  meek  silence. 

After  a  pause  of  several  minutes,  Hetty  began  to  sing. 
Her  voice  was  low  and  tremulous,  but  it  was  earnest  and 
solemn.  The  words  and  the  time  were  of  the  simplest 
form,  the  first  being  a  hymn  that  she  had  been  taught  by 
her  mother,  and  the  last  one  of  those  natural  melodies  that 
find  favor  with  all  classes,  in  every  age,  coming  from  and 
being  addressed  to  the  feelings.  H utter  never  listened  to 
this  simple  strain  without  finding  his  heart  and  manner 
softened  ;  facts  that  his  daughter  well  knew,  and  by  which 
she  had  often  profited,  through  the  sort  of  holy  instinct 
that  enlightens  the  weak  of  mind,  more  especially  in  their 
aims  toward  good. 

Hetty's  low  sweet  tones  had  not  been  raised  many 
moments,  when  the  dip  of  the  oars  ceased,  and  the  holy 
strain  arose  singly  on  the  breathing  silence  of  the  wilder 
ness.  As  if  she  gathered  courage  with  the  theme,  her 
powers  appeared  to  increase  as  she  proceeded  ;  and  though 
nothing  vulgar  or  noisy  mingled  in  her  melody,  its  strength 
and  melancholy  tenderness  grew  on  the  ear,  until  the  air 
was  filled  with  this  simple  homage  of  a  soul  that  seemed 
almost  spotless.  That  the  men  forward  were  not  indiffer 
ent  to  this  touching  interruption  was  proved  by  their  in 
action  ;  nor  did  their  oars  again  dip  until  the  last  of  the 
sweet  sounds  had  actually  died  among  the  remarkable 
shores,  which,  at  that  witching  hour,  would  waft  even  the 
lowest  modulations  of  the  human  voice  more  than  a  mile. 
H  utter  was  much  affected ;  for  rude  as  he  was  by  early 


62  THE  DEERSLAYER 

habits,  and  even  ruthless  as  he  had  got  to  be  by  long  ex 
posure  to  the  practices  of  the  wilderness,  his  nature  was 
of  that  fearful  mixture  of  good  and  evil  that  so  generally 
enters  into  the  moral  composition  of  man. 

"  You  are  sad  to-night,  child,"  said  the  father,  who  al 
ways  spoke  gently  to  this  afflicted  child  of  his,  "  we  have 
just  escaped  from  enemies,  and  ought  rather  to  rejoice." 

"  You  can  never  do  it,  father !  "  said  Hetty,  in  a  low, 
remonstrating  manner,  taking  his  hard,  knotty  hand  into 
both  her  own  ;  "  you  have  talked  long  with  Harry  March  ; 
but  neither  of  you  have  the  heart  to  do  it !" 

'  This  is  going  beyond  your  means,  foolish  child  ;  you 
must  have  been  naughty  enough  to  have  listened,  or  you 
could  know  nothing  of  our  talk." 

"Why  should  you  and  Hurry  kill  people  —  especially 
women  and  children  ?  " 

"  Peace,  girl,  peace  ;  we  are  at  war,  and  we  kill  our  en 
emies  in  war  lest  they  should  kill  us.  One  side  or  the 
other  must  begin  ;  and  they  that  begin  first  are  most  apt 
to  get  the  victory.  You  know  nothing  about  these  things, 
poor  Hetty,  and  had  best  say  nothing." 

"Judith  says  it  is  wrong,  father ;  and  Judith  has  sense, 
though  I  have  none." 

"  Jude  understands  better  than  to  talk  to  me  of  these 
matters  ;  for  she  has  sense,  as  you  say,  and  knows  I  '11  not 
bear  it.  Which  would  you  prefer,  Hetty  ;  to  have  your 
own  scalp  taken,  and  sold  to  the  French,  or  that  we  should 
kill  our  enemies,  and  keep  them  from  harming  us  ?  " 

"That's  not  it,  father!  Don't  kill  them,  nor  let  them 
kill  us.  Sell  your  skins,  and  get  more,  if  you  can ;  but 
don't  sell  human  blood." 


THE  SURPRISE  63 

"  Come,  come,  child  ;  let  us  talk  of  matters  you  under 
stand.  Your  heart  is  good,  child,  and  fitter  for  the  settle 
ments  than  for  the  woods ;  while  your  reason  is  fitter  for 
the  woods  than  for  the  settlements." 

"  Why  has  Judith  more  reason  than  I,  father  ? " 

"  Heaven  help  thee,  child  :  this  is  more  than  I  can 
answer.  God  gives  sense,  and  appearance,  and  all  these 
things  ;  and  he  grants  them  as  he  seeth  fit.  Dost  thou 
wish  for  more  sense  ?  " 

"Not  I.  The  little  I  have  troubles  me;  for  when  I 
think  the  hardest,  then  I  feel  the  unhappiest.  I  don't  be 
lieve  thinking  is  good  for  me,  though  I  do  wish  I  was  as 
handsome  as  Judith  !  " 

"  Why  so,  poor  child  ?  Thy  sister's  beauty  may  cause 
her  trouble,  as  it  caused  her  mother  before  her.  It 's  no 
advantage,  Hetty,  to  be  so  marked  for  anything  as  to 
become  an  object  of  envy,  or  to  be  sought  after  more 
than  others." 

"  Mother  was  good,  if  she  was  handsome,"  returned  the 
girl,  the  tears  starting  to  her  eyes,  as  usually  happened 
when  she  adverted  to  her  deceased  parent. 

Old  Hutter,  if  not  equally  affected,  was  moody  and 
silent  at  this  allusion  to  his  wife.  He  continued  smoking, 
without  appearing  disposed  to  make  any  answer,  until  his 
simple-minded  daughter  repeated  her  remark,  in  a  way  to 
show  that  she  felt  uneasiness  lest  he  might  be  inclined  to 
deny  her  assertion.  Then  he  knocked  the  ashes  out  of 
his  pipe,  and  laying  his  hand  in  a  sort  of  rough  kindness 
on  the  girl's  head,  he  made  a  reply. 

"  Thy  mother  was  too  good  for  this  world,"  he  said; 
"  though  others  might  not  think  so.  Her  good  looks  did 


64  THE  DEERSLAYER 

not  befriend  her ;  and  you  have  no  occasion  to  mourn 
that  you  are  not  as  much  like  her  as  your  sister.  Think 
less  of  beauty,  child,  and  more  of  your  duty,  and  you  '11 
be  as  happy  on  this  lake  as  you  could  be  in  the  king's 
palace." 

"  I  know  it,  father  ;  but  Hurry  is  so  handsome  and  he 
says  beauty  is  everything  in  a  young  woman." 

Hutter  made  an  ejaculation  expressive  of  dissatisfaction, 
and  went  forward,  passing  through  the  house  in  order  to 
do  so.  Hetty's  simple  betrayal,  both  by  word  and  even 
more  plainly  by  look,  of  her  weakness  in  behalf  of  March 
gave  him  uneasiness  on  a  subject  concerning  which  he 
had  never  felt  before,  and  he  determined  to  come  to  an 
explanation  at  once  with  his  visitor  regarding  his  inten 
tions  concerning  the  older  sister,  for  whose  hand  he  ap 
peared  at  times  to  be  an  ardent  suitor  ;  for  directness  of 
speech  and  decision  in  conduct  were  two  of  the  best  qual 
ities  of  this  rude  being,  in  whom  the  seeds  of  a  better  ed 
ucation  seemed  to  be  constantly  struggling  upwards,  to  be 
choked  by  the  fruits  of  a  life  in  which  his  hard  struggles 
for  subsistence  and  security  had  steeled  his  feelings  and 
hardened  his  nature.  When  he  reached  the  forward  end 
of  the  scow,  he  manifested  an  intention  to  relieve  Deer- 
slayer  at  the  oar,  directing  the  latter  to  take  his  own  place 
aft.  By  these  changes  the  old  man  and  Hurry  were  again 
left  alone,  while  the  young  hunter  was  transferred  to  the 
other  end  of  the  ark. 

Hetty  had  disappeared  when  Deerslayer  reached  his  new 
post,  and  for  some  little  time  he  directed  the  course  of  the 
slow-moving  craft  by  himself.  It  was  not  long,  however, 
before  Judith  came  out  of  the  cabin,  as  if  disposed  to  do 


THE  SURPRISE  65 

the  honors  of  the  place  to  a  stranger  engaged  in  the  serv 
ice  of  her  family.  The  starlight  was  sufficient  to  permit 
objects  to  be  plainly  distinguished  when  near  at  hand,  and 
the  bright  eyes  of  the  girl  had  an  expression  of  kindness 
in  them,  when  they  met  those  of  the  youth,  that  the  latter 
was  easily  enabled  to  discover.  Her  rich  hair  shaded  her 
spirited  and  yet  soft  countenance,  even  at  that  hour  ren 
dering  it  the  more  beautiful  —  as  the  rose  is  loveliest  when 
reposing  amid  the  shadows  and  contrasts  of  its  native 
foliage. 

11 1  thought  I  should  have  killed  myself  with  laughing, 
Deerslayer,"  the  beauty  abruptly,  but  coquettishly  com 
menced,  "when  I  saw  that  Indian  dive  into  the  river!  He 
was  a  good-looking  savage,  too,"  —the  girl  always  dwelt 
on  personal  beauty  as  a  sort  of  merit,  —  "  and  yet  one 
could  n't  stop  to  consider  whether  his  paint  would  stand 
water  !  " 

"  And  I  thought  they  would  have  killed  you  with  their 
we'pons,  Judith,"  returned  Deerslayer;  "it  was  an  awful 
risk  for  a  female  to  run  in  the  face  of  a  dozen  Mingos  !  " 

"  Did  that  make  you  come  out  of  the  cabin,  in  spite  of 
their  rifles,  too  ?  "  asked  the  girl,  with  more  real  interest 
than  she  would  have  cared  to  betray,  though  with  an  as 
sumed  indifference  of  manner. 

"Men  aren't  apt  to  see  females  in  danger,  and  not 
come  to  their  assistance.  Even  a  Mingo  knows  that." 

This  sentiment  was  uttered  with  as  much  simplicity  of 
manner  as  of  feeling,  and  Judith'  rewarded  it  with  a  smile 
so  sweet  that  even  Deerslayer,  who  had  imbibed  a  prejudice 
against  the  girl  in  consequence  of  Hurry's  suspicions  of 
her  levity,  felt  its  charm,  notwithstanding  half  its  winning 


66  THE  DEERSLAYER 

influence  was  lost  in  the  feeble  light.  It  at  once  created 
a  sort  of  confidence  between  them,  and  the  discourse  was 
continued  on  the  part  of  the  hunter,  without  the  lively 
consciousness  of  the  character  of  this  coquette  of  the  wil 
derness,  with  which  it  had  certainly  commenced. 

u  You  are  a  man  of  deeds,  and  not  of  words,  I  see 
plainly,  Deerslayer,"  continued  the  beauty,  taking  her  seat 
near  the  spot  where  the  other  stood,  "  and  I  foresee  we 
shall  be  very  good  friends.  Hurry  Harry  has  a  tongue, 
and,  giant  as  he  is,  he  talks  more  than  he  performs." 

"  March  is  your  fri'nd,  Judith  ;  and  fri'nds  should  be 
tender  of  each  other,  when  apart." 

"  We  all  know  what  Hurry's  friendship  comes  to  !  Let 
him  have  his  own  way  in  everything,  and  he  's  the  best 
fellow  in  the  colony  ;  but  '  head  him  off,'  as  you  say  of  the 
deer,  and  he  is  master  of  everything  near  him  but  him 
self.  Hurry  is  no  favorite  of  mine,  Deerslayer ;  and  I 
dare  say,  if  the  truth  was  known,  and  his  conversation 
about  me  repeated,  it  would  be  found  that  he  thinks  no 
better  of  me  than  I  own  I  do  of  him." 

"  March  has  his  say  of  all  things  in  natur',  whether  of 
fri'nd  or  foe,"  slowly  and  cautiously  rejoined  the  hunter. 
"  He  's  one  of  them  that  speak  as  they  feel  while  the 
tongue 's  a-going,  and  that 's  sometimes  different  from 
what  they  'd  speak  if  they  took  time  to  consider.  Give  me 
a  Delaware,  Judith,  for  one  that  reflects  and  ruminates  on 
his  idees !  Inmity  has  made  him  thoughtful,  and  a  loose 
tongue  is  no  ricommend  at  their  council  fires." 

"  I  dare  say  March's  tongue  goes  free  enough  when  it 
gets  on  the  subject  of  Judith  H utter  and  her  sister,"  said 
the  girl,  rousing  herself  as  if  in  careless  disdain.  "  Young 


THE  SURPRISE  67 

women's  good  names  are  a  pleasant  matter  of  discourse 
with  some  that  would  n't  dare  to  be  so  open-mouthed  if 
there  was  a  brother  in  the  way.  Master  March  may  find 
it  pleasant  to  traduce  us,  but  sooner  or  later  he  '11  repent ! " 

"  Nay,  Judith,  this  is  taking  the  matter  up  too  much  in 
'arnest.  Hurry  has  never  whispered  a  syllable  agin  the 
good  name  of  Hetty,  to  begin  with  " 

"  I  see  how  it  is  —  I  see  how  it  is,"  impetuously  inter 
rupted  Judith.  "  /  am  the  one  he  sees  fit  to  scorch  with 
his  withering  tongue  !  Hetty,  indeed  !  Poor  Hetty  !  "  she 
continued,  her  voice  sinking  into  low,  husky  tones,  that 
seemed  nearly  to  stifle  her  in  the  utterance ;  "  she  is  be 
yond  and  above  his  slanderous  malice  !  Poor  Hetty !  If 
God  has  created  her  feeble-minded,  the  weakness  lies 
altogether  on  the  side  of  errors  of  which  she  seems  to 
know  nothing.  The  earth  never  held  a  purer  being  than 
Hetty  Hutter,  Deerslayer." 

"  I  can  believe  it  —  yes,  I  can  believe  that,  Judith,  and 
I  hope  'arnestly  that  the  same  can  be  said  of  her  hand 
some  sister." 

There  was  a  soothing  sincerity  in  the  voice  of  Deerslayer, 
which  touched  the  girl's  feelings  ;  nor  did  the  allusion  to 
her  beauty  lessen  the  effect  with  one  who  only  knew  too 
well  the  power  of  her  personal  charms.  Nevertheless,  the 
still,  small  voice  of  conscience  was  not  hushed,  and  it 
prompted  the  answer  which  she  made  after  giving  herself 
time  to  reflect. 

"  I  dare  say  Hurry  had  some  of  his  vile  hints  about  the 
people  of  the  garrisons,"  she  added.  "He  knows  they  are 
gentlemen,  and  can  never  forgive  any  one  for  being  what 
he  feels  he  can  never  become  himself." 


68  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  Not  in  the  sense  of  a  king's  officer,  Judith,  sartainly, 
for  March  has  no  turn  that-a-way  ;  but  in  the  sense  of  re 
ality,  why  may  not  a  beaver-hunter  be  as  respectable  as  a 
governor  ?  Since  you  speak  of  it  yourself,  I  '11  not  deny 
that  he  did  complain  of  one  as  humble  as  you  being  so 
much  in  the  company  of  scarlet  coats  and  silken  sashes. 
But  't  was  jealousy  that  brought  it  out  of  him,  and  I  do 
think  he  mourned  over  it  as  any  good  man  must." 

Perhaps  Deerslayer  was  not  aware  of  the  full  meaning 
that  his  earnest  language  conveyed.  It  is  certain  that  he 
did  not  see  the  color  that  crimsoned  the  whole  of  Judith's 
fine  face,  nor  detect  the  uncontrollable  distress  that  imme 
diately  after  changed  its  hue  to  deadly  paleness.  A  min 
ute  or  two  elapsed  in  profound  stillness,  the  splash  of  the 
water  seeming  to  occupy  all  the  avenues  of  sound ;  and 
then  Judith  arose,  and  grasped  the  hand  ofr  the  hunter, 
almost  convulsively,  with  one  of  her  own. 

"  Deerslayer,"  she  said,  hurriedly,  "  I  'm  glad' the  ice  is 
broken  between  us.  They  say  that  sudden  friendships  lead 
to  long  enmities,  but  I  do  not  believe  it  will  turn  out  so 
with  us.  I  know  not  how  it  is  —  but  you  are  the  first  man 
I  ever  met  who  did  not  seem  to  wish  to  flatter  —  to  wish 
my  ruin  —  to  be  an  enemy  in  disguise  —  never  mind  ;  say 
nothing  to  Hurry,  and  another  time  we  '11  talk  together 
again." 

As  the  girl  released  her  grasp,  she  vanished  in  the 
house,  leaving  the  astonished  young  man  standing  at  the 
steering-oar,  as  motionless  as  one  of  the  pines  on  the  hills. 
So  abstracted,  indeed,  had  his  thoughts  become,  that  he 
was  hailed  by  Hutter  to  keep  the  scow's  head  in  the  right 
(direction,  before  he  remembered  his  actual  situation. 


PART  II.    THE  CAPTURE 


CHAPTER  I 

Shortly  after  the  disappearance  of  Judith,  a  light  south 
erly  air  arose,  and  Hutter  set  a  large  square-sail.  The 
effect  on  the  ark  was  such  as  to  supersede  the  necessity  of 
rowing  ;  and  in  about  two  hours  the  castle  was  seen,  in 
the  darkness,  rising  out  of  the  water,  at  the  distance  of  a 
hundred  yards.  The  sail  was  then  lowered,  and  by  slow 
degrees  the  scow  drifted  up  to  the  building  and  was 
secured. 

The  place  was  found  in  the  quiet  of  midnight.  No  one 
had  visited  it  since  Hurry  and  his  companion  left  it.  As 
an  enemy  was  known  to  be  near,  Hutter  directed  his 
daughters  to  abstain  from  the  use  of  lights,  lest  they 
might  prove  beacons  to  direct  their  foes  where  they 
might  be  found. 

"  In  open  daylight,"  he  explained,  "  I  shoflkl  n't  fear  a 
host  of  savages,  when  I  was  behind  these  stout  logs,  and 
they  were  without  any  cover  to  skulk  into,  for  I  've  three 
or  four  trusty  weapons  always  loaded,  and  Kill-deer,  in 
particular,  is  a  piece  that  never  misses.  But  it 's  a  differ 
ent  thing  at  night.  A  canoe  may  get  upon  us  unseen  in 
the  dark  ;  and  the  savages  have  so  many  cunning  ways  of 
attacking,  that  I  look  upon  it  as  bad  enough  to  deal  with 
'em  under  a  bright  sun.  I  built  this  dwelling  in  order  to 


70  THE  DEERSLAYER 

have  'em  at  arm's  length,  in  case  we  should  ever  get  to 
blows  again.  Some  people  think  it 's  too  open  and  ex 
posed,  but  I  'm  for  anchoring  out  here,  clear  of  underbrush 
and  thickets,  as  the  surest  means  of  making  a  safe  berth." 

"  You  were  once  a  sailor,  they  tell  me,  old  Tom  ?  "  said 
Hurry,  in  his  abrupt  manner,  struck  by  one  or  two  expres 
sions  that  the  other  had  just  used,  "  and  some  people 
believe  you  could  give  us  strange  accounts  of  inimies  and 
shipwrecks,  if  you  'd  a  mind  to  come  out  with  all  you 
know  ?  " 

"  There  are  people  in  this  world,  Hurry,"  returned  the 
other  evasively,  "who  live  on  other  men's  thoughts;  and 
some  such  often  find  their  way  into  the  woods.  What  I  've 
been,  or  what  I  've  seen  in  youth,  is  of  less  matter  now 
than  what  the  savages  are.  It 's  of  more  account  to  find 
out  what  will  happen  in  the  next  twenty-four  hours  than 
to  talk  over  what  happened  twenty-four  years  since." 

"That's  judgment,"  replied  Hurry,  good-naturedly; 
"yes,  that's  sound  judgment.  Here's  Judith  and  Hetty 
to  take  case  of,  to  say  nothing  of  our  own  topknots  ;  let 's 
hear  your  plan." 

In  response  the  old  man  invited  his  two  companions  to 
follow*hin1*l%ain  into  the  scow,  and  here  he  opened  his 
project,  keeping  back  the  portion  that  he  had  reserved  for 
execution  by  Hurry  and  himself. 

"  The  great  object  for  people  posted  like  ourselves  is  to 
command  the  water,"  he  commenced.  "  So  long  as  there 
is  no  other  craft  on  the  lake,  a  bark  canoe  is  as  good  as  a 
man-of-war,  since  the  castle  will  not  be  easily  taken  by 
swimming.  Now,  there  are  but  five  canoes  remaining  in 
these  parts,  two  of  which  are  mine,  and  one  is  Hurry's. 


THE  CAPTURE  71 

These  three  we  have  with  us  here  ;  one  being  fastened  in 
the  canoe-dock  beneath  the  house,  and  the  other  two  being 
alongside  the  scow.  The  other  canoes  are  housed  on  the 
shore  in  hollow  logs,  and  the  savages,  who  are  such  venom 
ous  enemies,  will  leave  no  likely  place  unexamined  in  the 
morning,  if  they  're  serious  in  s'arch  of  bounties  "• 

"  Now,  friend  Hutter,"  interrupted  Hurry,  "the  Indian 
don't  live  that  can  find  a  canoe  that  is  suitably  wintered. 
I  've  done  something  at  this  business  before  now,  and 
Deerslayer  here  knows  that  I  am  one  that  can  hide  a  craft 
in  such  a  way  that  I  can't  find  it  myself." 

"  Very  true,  Hurry,"  put  in  the  person  to  whom  the 
appeal  had  been  made,  "  but  you  overlook  the  sarcum- 
stance  that  if  you  could  n't  see  the  trail  of  the  man  who 
did  the  job,  /  could.  I'm  of  Master  Hutter's  mind  — 
that  it 's  far  wiser  to  mistrust  a  savage's  ingenuity  than  to 
build  any  great  expectations  on  his  want  of  eyesight.  If 
these  two  canoes  can  be  got  off  to  the  castle,  therefore, 
the  sooner  it 's  done  the  better." 

"  Will  you  be  of  the  party  that 's  to  do  it  ?  "  -demanded 
Hutter,  in  a  way  to  show  that  the  proposal  both  surprised 
and  pleased  him. 

"  Sartain.  I  'm  ready  to  enlist  in  any  enterprise  that 's 
not  agin  a  white  man's  lawful  gifts.  •  Natur'  orders  us  to 
defend  our  lives,  and  the  lives  of  others,  too,  when  there  's 
occasion  and  opportunity.  I  '11  follow  you,  Floating  Tom, 
into  the  Mingo  camp,  on  such  an  arr'nd,  and  will  strive 
to  do  my  duty,  should  we  come  to  blows ;  though,  never 
having  been  tried  in  battle,  I  don't  like  to  promise  more 
than  I  may  be  able  to  perform.  We  all  know  our  wishes, 
but  none  know  their  might  till  put  to  the  proof." 


72  THE  DEERSLAYER 

11  That 's  modest  and  suitable,  lad,"  exclaimed  Hurry. 
"  You  've  never  yet  heard  the  crack  of  an  angry  rifle  ; 
and,  let  me  tell  you,  't  is  as  different  from  the  persuasion 
of  one  of  your  venison  speeches,  as  the  laugh  of  Judith 
Hutter,  in  her  best  humor,  is  from  the  scolding  of  a 
Dutch  housekeeper  on  the  Mohawk.  I  don't  expect  you  '11 
prove  much  of  a  warrior,  Deerslayer,  though  your  equal 
with  the  bucks  and  the  does  don't  exist  in  all  these  parts. 
As  for  the  raal  sarvice,  however,  you  '11  turn  out  rather 
rearward,  according  to  my  consait." 

"  We  '11  see,  Hurry,  we  '11  see,"  returned  the  other 
cheerfully ;  "  having  never  been  tried,  I  '11  wait  to  know, 
before  I  form  any  opinion  of  myself  ;  and  then  there  '11  be 
sartainty,  instead  of  bragging.  I  've  heard  of  them  that 
was  valiant  afore  the  fight,  who  did  little  in  it ;  and  of 
them  that  waited  to  know  their  own  tempers,  and  found 
that  they  were  n't  as  bad  as  some  expected,  when  put  to 
the  proof." 

"At  any  rate,  we  know  you  can  use  a  paddle,  young 
man,"  said  Hutter,  "  and  that 's  all  we  shall  ask  of  you  to 
night.  Let  us  waste  no  more  time,  but  get  into  the  canoe, 
and  do,  in  place  of  talking." 

Hutter  led  the  way,  and  the  boat  was  soon  ready,  with 
Hurry  and  Deerslayer  at  the  paddles.  Before  the  old  man 
embarked  himself,  however,  he  held  a  conference  of  sev 
eral  minutes  with  Judith,  entering  the  house  for  that  pur 
pose  ;  then,  returning,  he  took  his  place  in  the  canoe, 
which  left  the  side  of  the  ark  at  the  next  instant. 

It  was  midnight  when  the  party  set  forth.  The  dark 
ness  had  increased,  though  the  night  was  still  clear,  and 
the  light  of  the  stars  sufficed  for  all  the  purposes  of  the 


THE  CAPTURE  73 

adventurers.  H utter  alone  knew  the  places  where  the 
canoes  were  hid,  and  he  directed  the  course,  while  his  two 
athletic  companions  raised  and  dipped  their  paddles  with 
proper  caution,  lest  the  sound  should  be  carried  to  the 
ears  of  their  enemies,  across  that  sheet  of  placid  water, 
in  the  stillness  of  deep  night.  But  the  bark  was  too  light 
to  require  any  extraordinary  efforts,  and  skill  supplying 
the  place  of  strength,  in  about  half  an  hour  they  were 
approaching  the  shore  at  a  point  near  a  league  from  the 
castle. 

"  Lay  on  your  paddles,  men,"  said  Hutter,  in  a  low 
voice,  "  and  let  us  look  about  us  for  a  moment.  We  must 
now  be  all  eyes  and  ears,  for  these  vermin  have  noses  like 
bloodhounds." 

The  shores  of  the  lake  were  examined  closely,  in  order 
to  discover  any  glimmering  of  light  that  might  have  been 
left  in  a  camp ;  and  the  men  strained  their  eyes,  in  the 
obscurity,  to  see  if  some  thread  of  smoke  was  not  still 
stealing  along  the  mountain-side,  as  it  arose  from  the  dying 
embers  of  a  fire.  Nothing  unusual  could  be  traced ;  and 
as  the  position  was  at  some  distance  from  the  outlet,  or 
the  spot  where  the  savages  had  been  met,  it  was  thought 
safe  to  land.  The  paddles  were  plied  again,  and  the  bows 
of  the  canoe  ground  upon  the  gravelly  beach  with  a  gentle 
motion  and  a  sound  barely  audible.  Hutter  and  Hurry 
immediately  landed,  the  former  carrying  his  own  and  his 
friend's  rifle, —  leaving  Deerslayer  in  charge  of  the  canoe. 
The  hollow  log  lay  a  little  distance  up  the  side  of  the 
mountain,  and  the  old  man  led  the  way  towards  it,  using 
so  much  caution  as  to  stop  at  every  third  or  fourth  step,  to 
listen  if  any  tread  betrayed  the  presence  of  a  foe.  The 


74  THE  DEERSLAYER 

same  death-like  stillness,  however,  reigned  on  the  mid 
night  scene,  and  the  desired  place  was  reached  without  an 
occurrence  to  induce  alarm. 

"This  is  it,"  whispered  Hutter,  laying  a  foot  on  the 
trunk  of  a  fallen  linden  ;  "  hand  me  the  paddles  first,  and 
draw  the  boat  out  with  care,  for  the  wretches  may  have 
left  it  for  a  bait,  after  all." 

"  Keep  my  rifle  handy,  but  towards  me,  old  fellow," 
answered  March.  "  If  they  attack  me  loaded,  I  shall 
want  to  unload  the  piece  at  'em,  at  least.  And  feel  if 
the  pan  is  full." 

"  All 's  right,"  muttered  the  other  ;  "  move  slow,  when 
you  get  your  load,  and  let  me  lead  the  way." 

The  canoe  was  drawn  out  of  the  log  with  the  utmost 
care,  raised  by  Hurry  to  his  shoulder,  and  the  two  began 
to  return  to  the  shore,  moving  but  a  step  at  a  time,  lest 
they  should  tumble  down  the  steep  declivity.  The  distance 
was  not  great,  but  the  descent  was  extremely  difficult ;  and, 
towards  the  end  of  their  little  journey,  Deerslayer  was 
obliged  to  land  and  meet  them,  in  order  to  aid  in  lifting 
the  canoe  through  the  bushes.  With  his  assistance  the  task 
was  successfully  accomplished,  and  the  light  craft  soon 
floated  by  the  side  of  the  other  canoe.  This  was  no  sooner 
done  than  all  three  turned  anxiously  towards  the  forest 
and  the  mountain,  expecting  an  enemy  to  break  out  of  the 
one,  or  to  come  rushing  down  the  other.  Still  the  silence 
was  unbroken,  and  they  all  embarked  with  the  caution 
that  had  been  used  in  coming  ashore. 

Hutter  now  steered  broad  off  towards  the  centre  of  the 
lake.  Having  got  a  sufficient  distance  from  the  shore,  he 
cast  his  prize  loose,  knowing  that  it  would  drift  slowly  up 


THE  CAPTURE  75 

the  lake  before  the  light  southerly  air,  and  intending  to  find 
it  on  his  return.  Thus  relieved  of  his  tow,  the  old  man 
held  his  way  down  the  lake,  steering  towards  the  very 
point  where  Hurry  had  made  his  fruitless  attempt  on  the 
life  of  the  deer.  As  the  distance  from  this  point  to  the 
outlet  was  less  than  a  mile,  it  was  like  entering  an  enemy's 
country ;  and  redoubled  caution  became  necessary.  They 
reached  the  extremity  of  the  point,  however,  and  landed  in 
safety  on  the  little  gravelly  beach  already  mentioned.  Un 
like  the  last  place  at  which  they  had  gone  ashore,  here  was 
no  acclivity  to  ascend  —  the  mountains  looming  up  in  the 
darkness  quite  a  quarter  of  a  mile  further  west,  leaving  a 
margin  of  level  ground  between  them  and  the  strand.  The 
point  itself,  though  long,  and  covered  with  tall  trees,  was 
nearly  flat,  and  for  some  distance  only  a  few  yards  in 
width.  Hutter  and  Hurry  landed  as  before,  leaving  their 
companion  in  charge  of  the  boat. 

In  this  instance,  the  dead  tree  that  contained  the  canoe 
of  which  they  had  come  in  quest  lay  about  halfway  be 
tween  the  extremity  of  the  narrow  slip  of  land  and  the 
place  where  it  joined  the  main  shore ;  and  knowing  that 
there  was  water  so  near  him  on  his  left,  the  old  man  led 
the  way  along  the  eastern  side  of  the  belt  with  some  con 
fidence,  walking  boldly,  though  still  with  caution.  He  had 
landed  at  the  point  expressly  to  get  a  glimpse  into  the  bay, 
and  to  make  certain  that  the  coast  was  clear ;  otherwise 
he  would  have  come  ashore  directly  abreast  of  the  hollow 
tree.  There  was  no  difficulty  in  finding  the  latter,  from 
which  the  canoe  was  drawn  as  before,  and  instead  of  car 
rying  it  down  to  the  place  where  Deerslayer  lay,  it  was 
launched  at  the  nearest  favorable  spot.  As  soon  as  it  was 


76  THE  DEERSLAYER 

in  the  water,  Hurry  entered  it,  and  paddled  round  to  the 
point,  whither  H utter  also  proceeded,  following  the  beach. 
As  the  three  men  had  now  in  their  possession  all  the 
boats  on  the  lake,  their  confidence  was  greatly  increased, 
and  there  was  no  longer  the  same  feverish  desire  to  quit 
the  shore,  or  the  same  necessity  for  extreme  caution. 
Their  position  on  the  extremity  of  the  long,  narrow  bit  of 
land  added  to  the  feeling  of  security,  as  it  permitted  an 
enemy  to  approach  in  only  one  direction  :  that  in  their 
front,  and  under  circumstances  that  would  render  discov 
ery,  with  their  habitual  vigilance,  almost  certain.  The 
three  now  landed  together,  and  stood  grouped  in  consul 
tation  on  the  gravelly  point. 

''We've  fairly  treed  the  scamps,"  said  Hurry,  chuck 
ling  at  their  success  ;  "  if  they  wish  to  visit  the  castle,  let 
'em  wade  or  swim  !  Old  Tom,  that  idee  of  your'n,  in  bur 
rowing  out  in  the  lake,  was  high  proof,  and  carries  a  fine 
bead.  There  be  men  who  would  think  the  land  safer  than 
the  water  ;  but,  after  all,  reason  shows  it  is  n't ;  the  beaver, 
and  rats,  and  other  1'arned  creatur's  taking  to  the  last  when 
hard  pressed.  I  call  our  position  now  entrenched,  and  set 
the  Canadas  at  defiance." 

"  Let  us  paddle  along  this  south  shore,"  said  Hutter, 
"  and  see  if  there  's  no  sign  of  an  encampment ;  but  first 
let  me  have  a  better  look  into  the  bay,  for  no  one  has  been 
far  enough  round  the  inner  shore  of  the  point  to  make 
sure  of  that  quarter  yet." 

As  Hutter  ceased  speaking,  all  three  moved  in  the  di 
rection  he  had  named.  Scarce  had  they  fairly  opened  the 
bottom  of  the  bay,  when  a  general  start  proved  that  their 
eyes  had  lighted  on  a  common  object  at  the  same  instant. 


THE  CAPTURE  77 

It  was  no  more  than  a  dying  brand,  giving  out  its  flicker 
ing  and  failing  light ;  but  at  that  hour,  and  in  that  place,  it 
left  not  a  shadow  of  doubt  that  this  fire  had  been  kindled 
at  an  encampment  of  the  Indians.  The  situation,  sheltered 
from  observation  on  all  sides  but  one,  and  even  on  that 
except  for  a  very  short  distance,  proved  that  more  care  had 
been  taken  to  conceal  the  spot  than  would  be  used  for  or 
dinary  purposes,  and  H  utter,  who  knew  that  a  spring  was 
near  at  hand,  as  well  as  one  of  the  best  fishing-stations  on 
the  lake,  immediately  inferred  that  this  encampment  con 
tained  the  women  and  children  of  the  party. 

''That's  not  a  warrior's  encampment,"  he  growled  to 
Hurry  ;  "  and  there  's  bounty  enough  sleeping  round  that 
fire  to  make  a  heavy  division  of  head-money.  Send  the  lad 
to  the  canoes,  for  there  '11  come  no  good  of  him  in  such  an 
onset,  and  let  us  take  the  matter  in  hand  at  once,  like  men." 

"  There  's  judgment  in  your  notion,  old  Tom,  and  I 
like  it  to  the  back-bone.  Deerslayer,  do  you  get  into  the 
canoe,  lad,  and  paddle  off  into  the  lake  with  the  spare  one, 
and  set  it  adrift,  as  we  did  with  the  other ;  after  which 
you  can  float  along  shore,  as  near  as  you  can  get  to  the 
head  of  the  bay,  keeping  outside  the  point,  hows 'ever,  and 
outside  the  rushes,  too.  You  can  hear  us  when  we  want 
you  ;  and  if  there  's  any  delay,  I  '11  call  like  a  loon  —  yes, 
that'll  do  it  —  the  call  of  a  loon  shall  be  the  signal.  If 
you  hear  rifles,  and  feel  like  sogering,  why,  you  may  close 
in,  and  see  if  you  can  make  the  same  hand  with  the  sav 
ages  that  you  do  with  the  deer." 

"If  my  wishes  could  be  followed,  this  matter  would 
not  be  undertaken,  Hurry  " 

"  Quite  true  —  nobody  denies  it,  boy  ;  but  your  wishes 


78  THE  DEERSLAYER 

cant  be  followed ;  and  that  inds  the  matter.  So  just 
canoe  yourself  off  into  the  middle  of  the  lake,  and  by  the 
time  you  get  back  there  '11  be  movements  in  that  camp  !  " 
The  young  man  set  about  complying  with  great  reluc 
tance  and  a  heavy  heart.  He  knew  the  prejudices  of  the 
frontier-men  too  well,  however,  to  attempt  a  remonstrance. 
He  paddled  the  canoe,  therefore,  silently,  and  with  the 
former  caution,  to  a  spot  near  the  centre  of  the  placid 
sheet  of  water,  and  set  the  boat  just  recovered  adrift,  to 
float  towards  the  castle,  before  the  light  southerly  air. 
This  expedient  had  been  adopted,  in  both  cases,  under  the 
certainty  that  the  drift  could  not  carry  the  light  barks  more 
than  a  league  or  two,  before  the  return  of  light,  when  they 
might  easily  be  overtaken.  In  order  to  prevent  any  wan 
dering  savage  from  using  them,  by  swimming  off  and  get 
ting  possession, —  a  possible,  but  scarcely  a  probable  event, 
—  all  the  paddles  were  retained. 

No  sooner  had  he  set  the  recovered  canoe  adrift,  than 
Deerslayer  turned  the  bows  of  his  own  towards  the  point 
on  the  shore  that  had  been  indicated  by  Hurry.  So  light 
was  the  movement  of  the  little  craft,  and  so  steady  the 
sweep  of  its  master's  arm,  that  ten  minutes  had  not  elapsed 
ere  it  was  again  approaching  the  land,  having,  in  that  brief 
time,  passed  over  fully  half  a  mile  of  distance.  As  soon  as 
Deerslayer's  eye  caught  a  glimpse  of  the  rushes,  of  which 
there  were  many  growing  in  the  water  a  hundred  feet 
from  the  shore,  he  arrested  the  motion  of  the  canoe,  and 
anchored  his  boat  by  holding  fast  to  the  delicate  but  tena 
cious  stem  of  one  of  the  drooping  plants.  Here  he  re 
mained,  awaiting,  with  an  intensity  of  suspense  that  can  be 
easily  imagined,  the  result  of  the  hazardous  enterprise. 


THE  CAPTURE 


CHAPTER  II 


79 


It  would  be  difficult  to  convey  to  the  minds  of  those 
who  have  never  witnessed  it  the  sublimity  that  characterizes 
the  silence  of  a  solitude  as  deep  as  that  which  now  reigned 
over  the  Glimmerglass.  In  the  present  instance  this  sub 
limity  was  increased  by  the  gloom  of  night,  which  threw 
its  shadowy  and  fantastic  forms  around  the  lake,  the  forest, 
and  the  hills.  Once  as  Deerslayer  sat  in  his  solitary  canoe, 
endeavoring  to  catch  the  smallest  sound  that  might  denote 
the  course  of  things  on  shore,  he  thought  he  heard  the 
cracking  of  a  dried  twig,  but  expectation  was  so  intense  it 
might  mislead  him.  In  this  manner  minute  after  minute 
passed,  until  the  whole  time  since  he  left  his  companions 
was  extended  to  quite  an  hour  and  a  half.  Then  there 
came  a  sound  that  filled  him  equally  with  concern  and  sur 
prise.  The  quavering  call  of  a  loon  arose  from  the  oppo 
site  side  of  the  lake,  evidently  at  no  great  distance  from 
its  outlet.  There  was  no  mistaking  the  note  ;  shrill,  trem 
ulous,  loud,  and  sufficiently  prolonged,  it  seems  the  very 
cry  of  warning.  It  is  often  raised,  also,  at  night  —  an  ex 
ception  to  the  habits  of  most  of  the  other  feathered  inmates 
of  the  wilderness ;  a  circumstance  which  had  induced 
Hurry  to  select  it  as  his  own  signal.  There  had  been  suf 
ficient  time,  certainly,  for  the  two  adventurers  to  make 
their  way  by  land  from  the  point  where  they  had  been  left 
to  that  whence  the  call  had  come,  but  it  was  not  probable 
that  they  would  adopt  such  a  course.  Had  the  camp  been 
deserted  they  would  have  summoned  Deerslayer  to  the 
shore,  and,  did  it  prove  to  be  peopled,  there  could  be  no 
sufficient  motive  for  circling  it,  in  order  to  reembark  at  so 


80  THE  DEERSLAYER 

great  a  distance.  Should  he  obey  the  signal,  and  be  drawn 
away  from  the  landing,  the  lives  of  those  who  depended  on 
him  might  be  the  forfeit  —  and,  should  he  neglect  the  call, 
on  the  supposition  that  it  had  been  really  made,  the  conse 
quences  might  be  equally  disastrous,  though  from  a  differ 
ent  cause.  In  this  indecision  he  waited,  —  trusting  that 
the  call,  whether  feigned  or  natural,  would  be  speedily 
renewed.  Nor  was  he  mistaken.  A  very  few  minutes 
elapsed  before  the  same  shrill  warning  cry  was  repeated, 
and  from  the  same  part  of  the  lake.  This  time,  being  on 
the  alert,  his  senses  were  not  deceived.  Although  he  had 
often  heard  admirable  imitations  of  this  bird,  and  was  no 
mean  adept  himself  in  raising  its  notes,  he  felt  satisfied 
that  Hurry,  to  whose  efforts  in  that  way  he  had  attended, 
could  never  so  completely  and  closely  follow  nature.  He 
determined,  therefore,  to  disregard  that  cry,  and  to  wait 
for  one  less  perfect  and  nearer  at  hand. 

Deerslayer  had  hardly  come  to  this  determination,  when 
the  profound  stillness  of  night  and  solitude  was  broken  by 
a  cry  so  startling,  as  to  drive  all  recollection  of  the  more 
melancholy  call  of  the  loon  from  the  listener's  mind.  It 
was  a  shriek  of  agony,  that  came  either  from  one  of  the 
female  sex,  or  from  a  boy  so  young  as  not  yet  to  have 
attained  a  manly  voice.  This  appeal  could  not  be  mistaken. 
Heart-rending  terror  —  if  not  writhing  agony  —  was  in 
the  sounds,  and  the  anguish  that  had  awakened  them 
was  as  sudden  as  it  was  fearful.  The  young  man  released 
his  hold  of  the  rush,  and  dashed  his  paddle  into  the  water  ; 
to  do  he  knew  not  what  —  to  steer  he  knew  not  whither.  A 
very  few  moments,  however,  removed  his  indecision.  The 
breaking  of  branches,  the  cracking  of  dried  sticks,  and  the 


THE  CAPTURE  8 1 

fall  of  feet  were  distinctly  audible ;  the  sounds  appearing 
to  approach  the  water,  though  in  a  direction  that  led  diag 
onally  towards  the  shore,  and  a  little  further  north  than  the 
spot  that  Deerslayer  had  been  ordered  to  keep  near.  Fol 
lowing  this  clue,  the  young  man  urged  the  canoe  ahead, 
paying  but  little  attention  to  the  manner  in  which  he 
might  betray  its  presence.  He  had  reached  a  part  of  the 
shore,  where  its  immediate  bank  was  tolerably  high  and 
quite  steep.  Men  were  evidently  threshing  through  the 
bushes  and  trees  on  the  summit  of  this  bank,  following 
the  line  of  the  shore,  as  if  those  who  fled  sought  a  favorable 
place  for  descending.  Just  at  this  instant  five  or  six  rifles 
flashed,  and  the  opposite  hills  gave  back,  as  usual,  the 
sharp  reports  in  prolonged  rolling  echoes.  One  or  two 
shrieks,  like  those  which  escape  the  bravest  when  suddenly 
overcome  by  unexpected  anguish  and  alarm,  followed  ;  and 
then  the  threshing  among  the  bushes  was  renewed,  in  a 
way  to  show  that  man  was  grappling  with  man. 

"  Slippery  devil !  "  shouted  Hurry  with  the  fury  of  dis 
appointment  —   "his  skin  's  greased  !   I  shan't  grapple  !  — 
Take  that  for  your  cunning !  " 

The  words  were  followed  by  the  fall  of  some  heavy  ob 
ject  among  the  smaller  trees  that  fringed  the  bank,  appear 
ing  to  Deerslayer  as  if  his  gigantic  associate  had  hurled 
an  enemy  from  him  in  this  unceremonious  manner.  Again 
the  flight  and  pursuit  were  renewed,  and  then  the  young 
man  saw  a  human  form  break  down  the  hill;  and  rush  sev 
eral  yards  into  the  water.  At  this  critical  moment  the 
canoe  was  just  near  enough  to  the  spot  to  allow  this  move 
ment,  which  was  accompanied  by  no  little  noise,  to  be 
seen,  and  feeling  that  there  he  must  take  in  his  companion, 


82  THE  DEERSLAYER 

if  anywhere,  Deerslayer  urged  the  canoe  forward  to  the 
rescue.  His  paddle  had  not  been  raised  twice,  when  the 
voice  of  Hurry  was  heard  filling  the  air  with  imprecations, 
and  he  rolled  on  the  narrow  beach,  literally  loaded  down 
with  enemies.  While  prostrate,  and  almost  smothered 
with  his  foes,  the  athletic  frontier-man  gave  his  loon  call, 
in  a  manner  that  would  have  excited  laughter  under  cir 
cumstances  less  terrific.  The  figure  in  the  water  seemed 
suddenly  to  repent  his  own  flight,  and  rushed  to  the  shore 
to  aid  his  companion,  but  was  met  and  immediately  over 
powered  by  half  a  dozen  fresh  pursuers,  who  just  then 
came  leaping  down  the  bank. 

"  Let  up,  you  painted  riptyles  —  let  up  !  "  cried  Hurry, 
too  hard  pressed  to  be  particular  about  the  terms  he  used  ; 
"isn't  it  enough  that  I  am  withed  like  a  saw-log  that  ye 
must  choke  too  !  " 

This  speech  satisfied  Deerslayer  that  his  friends  were 
prisoners,  and  that  to  land  would  be  to  share  their  fate. 
He  was  already  within  a  hundred  feet  of  the  shore,  when 
a  few  timely  strokes  of  the  paddle  not  only  arrested  his 
advance,  but  forced  him  off  to  six  or  eight  times  that  dis 
tance  from  his  enemies.  Luckily  for  him,  all  of  the  Indians 
had  dropped  their  rifles  in  the  pursuit,  or  this  retreat  might 
not  have  been  effected  with  impunity  ;  though  no  one  had 
noted  the  canoe  in  the  first  confusion  of  the  melee. 

"  Keep  off  the  land,  lad,"  called  out  Hutter  ;  "the  girls 
depend  only  on  you,  now ;  you  will  want  all  your  caution 
to  escape  these  savages.  Keep  off,  and  trust  to  the  castle  ; 
and  God  prosper  you,  as  you  aid  my  children  !  " 

There  was  little  sympathy  in  general  between  Hutter 
and  the  young  man,  but  the  bodily  and  mental  anguish 


THE  CAPTURE  83 

with  which  this  appeal  was  made  served  at  the  moment  to 
conceal  from  the  latter  the  former's  faults.  He  saw  only 
the  father  in  his  sufferings,  and  resolved  at  once  to  give 
a  pledge  of  fidelity  to  his  interests,  and  to  be  faithful  to 
his  word. 

11  Put  your  heart  at  ease,  Master  Hutter,"  he  called  out ; 
"the  gals  shall  be  looked  to,  as  well  as  the  castle.  The 
inimy  has  got  the  shore,  't  is  no  use  to  deny,  but  he  has  n't 
got  the  water.  Providence  has  the  charge  of  all,  and  no 
one  can  say  what  will  come  of  it ;  but,  if  good-will  can  sarve  / 
you  and  your'n,  depend  on  that  much.  My  exper'ence  is 
small,  but  my  will  is  good." 

"  Aye,  aye,  Deerslayer,"  returned  Hurry,  in  his  stento 
rian  voice,  which  was  losing  some  of  its  heartiness,  notwith 
standing,  —  "  you  mean  well  enough,  but  what  can  you 
do  ?  If  there  's  one  savage  on  this  lake  shore,  there  's  forty. 
'T  won't  be  four-and-twenty  hours,  old  fellow,  afore  these 
foxes  will  be  rafting  off  to  storm  your  castle.  As  for  old 
Tom  and  myself,  whether  they  '11  scalp  us  to-night,  keep  us 
for  the  torture  by  fire,  or  carry  us  to  Canada,  is  more  than 
any  one  knows  but  the  devil  that  advises  them  how  to  act. 
It 's  quite  likely  they  '11  indivor  to  get  two  scalps  off  it,  for 
the  bounty  is  a  tempting  thing,  or  old  Tom  and  I  would  n't 
be  in  this  scrape.  These  savages  are  making  signs,  Deer- 
slayer,  for  me  to  encourage  you  to  come  ashore  with  the 
canoe ;  but  do  you  keep  off  where  you  are,  and  after  day 
light  on  no  account  come  within  two  hundred  yards  " 

This  injunction  of  Hurry's  was  stopped  by  a  hand  being 
rudely  slapped  against  his  mouth,  the  certain  sign  that  some 
one  in  the  party  sufficiently  understood  English  to  have 
at  length  detected  the  drift  of  his  discourse.  Immediately 


84  THE  DEERSLAYER 

after,  the  whole  group  entered  the  forest,  Hutter  and 
Hurry  apparently  making  no  resistance  to  the  movement. 
Just  as  the  sounds  of  the  cracking  bushes  were  ceasing, 
however,  the  voice  of  the  father  was  again  heard. 

"  As  you  're  true  to  my  children,  God  prosper  you, 
young  man  !  "  were  the  words  that  reached  Deerslayer's 
ears  ;  after  which  he  found  himself  left  to  follow  the  dic 
tates  of  his  own  discretion. 

Several  minutes  elapsed,  in  death-like  stillness,  when  the 
party  on  the  shore  had  disappeared  in  the  woods.  Owing 
to  the  distance  —  rather  more  than  two  hundred  yards  — 
and  the  obscurity,  Deerslayer  had  been  able  barely  to  dis 
tinguish  the  group,  and  to  see  it  retiring ;  but  even  this 
dim  connection  with  human  forms  gave  an  animation  to 
the  scene  that  was  strongly  in  contrast  to  the  absolute  sol 
itude  that  remained.  Although  the  young  man  leaned  for 
ward  to  listen,  holding  his  breath  and  condensing  every 
faculty  in1  the  single  sense  of  hearing,  not  another  sound 
reached  his  ears  to  denote  the  vicinity  of  human  beings.  It 
seemed  as  if  a  silence  that  had  never  been  broken  reigned 
on  the  spot  again. 

Deerslayer  paused  only  for  an  instant.  Then  dropping 
his  paddle  into  the  water,  he  turned  the  head  of  the  canoe, 
and  proceeded  slowly  towards  the  centre  of  the  lake. 
When  he  believed  himself  to  have  reached  a  point  in  a  line 
with  that  where  he  had  set  the  last  canoe  adrift,  he  changed 
his  direction  northward,  keeping  the  light  air  as  nearly 
on  his  back  as  possible.  After  paddling  a  quarter  of  a 
mile  in  this  direction,  a  dark  object  became  visible  on  the 
lake,  a  little  to  the  right ;  and  turning  on  one  side  for  the 
purpose,  he  had  soon  secured  his  lost  prize  to  his  own 


THE  CAPTURE  85 

boat.  Deerslayer  now  examined  the  heavens,  the  course 
of  the  air,  and  the  position  of  the  two  canoes.  Finding 
nothing  in  either  to  induce  a  change  of  plan,  he  lay  down 
and  prepared  to  catch  a  few  hours'  sleep,  that  the  morrow 
might  find  him  equal  to  its  exigencies. 

Although  the  hardy  and  the  tired  sleep  profoundly,  even 
in  scenes  of  danger,  it  was  some  time  before  Deerslayer 
lost  his  recollection.  His  mind  dwelt  on  what  had  passed, 
and  his  half-conscious  faculties  kept  figuring  the  events  of 
the  night,  in  a  sort  of  waking  dream.  Suddenly  he  was 
up  and  alert,  for  he  fancied  he  heard  the  preconcerted  sig 
nal  of  Hurry  summoning  him  to  the  shore.  But  all  was 
still  as  the  grave  again.  The  canoes  were  slowly  drifting 
northward,  the  thoughtful  stars  were  glimmering  in  their 
mild  glory  over  his  head,  and  the  forest-bound  sheet  of 
water  lay  embedded  between  its'  mountains,  as  calm  and 
melancholy  as  if  never  troubled  by  the  winds,  or  bright 
ened  by  a  noonday  sun.  Once  more  the  loon  raised  his 
tremulous  cry,  near  the  foot  of  the  lake,  and  the  mystery 
of  the  alarm  was  explained.  Deerslayer  adjusted  his  hard 
pillow,  stretched  his  form  in  the  bottom  of  the  canoe, 
and  slept. 

CHAPTER  III 

Day  had  fairly  dawned  before  the  young  man,  whom  we 
have  left  in  the  situation  described  in  the  last  chapter,  again 
opened  his  eyes.  This  was  no  sooner  done  than  he  started 
up,  and  looked  about  him  with  the  eagerness  of  one  who  sud 
denly  felt  the  importance  of  accurately  ascertaining  his  pre 
cise  position.  His  rest  had  been  deep  and  undisturbed,  — 
and  when  he  awoke,  it  was  with  a  clearness  of  intellect 


86  THE  DEERSLAYER 

and  a  readiness  of  resources  that  were  much  needed  at 
that  particular  moment.  The  sun  had  not  risen,  it  is  true, 
but  the  vault  of  heaven  was  rich  with  the  winning  softness 
that  "brings  and  shuts  the  day,"  while  the  whole  air  was 
filled  with  the  carols  of  birds.  These  sounds  first  told  Deer- 
slayer  the  risks  he  ran.  The  air,  for  wind  it  could  scarce 
be  called,  was  still  light,  it  is  true,  but  it  had  increased 
a  little  in  the  course  of  the  night,  and  as  the  canoes  were 
mere  feathers  on  the  water,  they  had  drifted  twice  the  ex 
pected  distance ;  and,  what  was  still  more  dangerous,  had 
approached  so  near  the  base  of  the  mountain  that  here 
rose  precipitously  from  the  eastern  shore  as  to  render  the 
carols  of  the  birds  plainly  audible.  This  was  not  the  worst. 
The  third  canoe  had  taken  the  same  direction,  and  was 
slowly  drifting  towards  a  point  where  it  must  inevitably 
touch,  unless  turned  aside  by  a  shift  of  wind,  or  human 
hands.  It  was  already  quite  near  the  point,  and  a  very  few 
strokes  of  the  paddle  sufficed  to  tell  him  that  it  must  touch 
before  he  could  possibly  overtake  it.  Just  at  this  moment, 
too,  the  wind  inopportunely  freshened,  rendering  the  drift 
of  the  light  craft  much  more  rapid  than  certain.  Feeling 
the  impossibility  of  preventing  a  contact  with  the  land,  the 
young  man  wisely  determined  not  to  heat  himself  with 
unnecessary  exertions  ;  but  first  looking  to  the  priming  of 
his  piece,  he  proceeded  slowly  and  warily  towards  the 
point,  taking  care  to  make  a  little  circuit,  that  he  might  he 
exposed  on  only  one  side,  as  he  approached. 

The  canoe  adrift  being  directed  by  no  such  intelligence, 
pursued  its  proper  way,  and  grounded  on  a  small  sunken 
rock  at  the  distance  of  three  or  four  yards  from  the  shore. 
Just  at  that  moment,  Deerslayer  had  got  abreast  of  t'he 


THE  CAPTURE  87 

point,  and  turned  the  bows  of  his  own  boat  to  the  land  ; 
first  casting  loose  his  tow,  that  his  movements  might  be 
unencumbered.  The  canoe  hung  an  instant  on  the  rock  ; 
then  it  rose  a  hair's  breadth  on  an  almost  imperceptible 
swell  of  the  water,  swung  round,  floated  clear,  and  reached 
the  strand.  All  this  the  young  man  noted,  but  it  neither 
quickened  his  pulses  nor  hastened  his  hand.  If  any  one 
had  been  lying  in  wait  for  the  arrival  of  the  waif,  he  must 
be  seen,  and  the  utmost  caution  in  approaching  the  shore 
became  indispensable  ;  if  no  one  was  in  ambush,  hurry 
was  unnecessary.  The  point  being  nearly  diagonally  oppo 
site  to  the  Indian  encampment,  he  hoped  the  last,  though 
the  former  was  not  only  possible,  but  probable ;  for  the 
savages  had  quite  likely  many  scouts  searching  the  shores 
for  craft  to  carry  them  off  to  the  castle,  and  there  was  little 
hope  that  either  of  the  canoes  would  pass  unseen.  Indian 
sagacity,  too,  needed  no  instruction  to  tell  which  way  a 
boat  or  a  log  would  drift,  when  the  direction  of  the  wind 
was  known.  As  Deerslayer  drew  nearer  and  nearer  to  the 
land,  the  stroke  of  his  paddle  grew  slower,  his  eye  became 
more  watchful,  and  his  ears  and  nostrils  almost  dilated  with 
the  effort  to  detect  any  lurking  danger. 

When  about  a  hundred  yards  from  the  shore,  Deerslayer 
rose  in  the  canoe,  gave  three  or  four  vigorous  strokes  with 
the  paddle,  sufficient  of  themselves  to  impel  the  bark  to 
land  ;  and  then,  quickly  laying  aside  the  instrument  of 
labor,  he  seized  that  of  war.  He  was  in  the  very  act  of 
raising  the  rifle,  when  a  sharp  report  was  followed  by  the 
buzz  of  a  bullet,  that  passed  so  near  his  body  as  to  cause 
him  involuntarily  to  start.  The  next  instant  Deerslayer 
staggered,  and  fell  his  whole  length  in  the  bottom  of  the 


88  THE  DEERSLAYER 

canoe.  A  yell  —  it  came  from  a  single  voice  —  followed, 
and  an  Indian  leaped  from  the  bushes  upon  the  open  area 
of  the  point,  bounding  towards  the  canoe.  This  was  the 
moment  the  young  man  desired.  He  rose  on  the  instant, 
and  leveled  his  own  rifle  at  his  uncovered  foe  ;  but  his 
\  finger  hesitated  about  pulling  the  trigger  on  one  whom  he 
held  at  such  a  disadvantage.  This  little  delay,  probably, 
saved  the  life  of  the  Indian,  who  bounded  back  into  the 
cover  as  swiftly  as  he  had  broken  out  of  it.  In  the  mean 
time  Deerslayer  had  been  swiftly  approaching  the  land, 
and  his  own  canoe  reached  the  point  just  as  his  enemy  dis 
appeared.  As  its  movements  had  not  been  directed,  it 
touched  the  shore  a  few  yards  from  the  other  boat ;  and 
though  the  rifle  of  his  foe  had  to  be  loaded,  there  was 
not  time  to  secure  his  prize,  and  to  carry  it  beyond 
danger,  before  he  would  be  exposed  to  another  shot. 
Under  the  circumstances,  therefore,  he  did  not  pause  an 
instant,  but  dashed  into  the  woods  and  sought  a  cover. 

On  the  immediate  point  there  was  a  small  open  area, 
partly  in  native  grass,  and  partly  beach,  but  a  dense  fringe 
of  bushes  lined  its  upper  side,  where  a  man  might  easily 
conceal  himself.  Deerslayer  knew  that  his  adversary  must 
be  employed  in  reloading,  unless  he  had  fled.  The  former 
proved  to  be  the  case,  for  the  young  man  had  no  sooner 
placed  himself  behind  a  tree,  than  he  caught  a  glimpse 
of  the  arm  of  the  Indian,  his  body  being  concealed  by  an 
oak,  in  the  very  act  of  forcing  the  leathered  bullet  home. 
Nothing  would  have  been  easier  than  to  spring  forward, 
and  decide  the  affair  by  a  close  assault  on  his  unprepared 
foe,  but  every  feeling  of  Deerslayer  revolted  at  such  a  step, 
although  his  own  life  had  just  been  attempted  from  a  cover. 


THE  CAPTURE  89 

He  was  yct  unpracticed  in  the  ruthless  expedients  of  sav 
age  warfare,  and  it  struck  him  as  an  unfair  advantage  to 
assail  an  unarmed  foe.  His  color  had  heightened,  his  eye 
frowned,  his  lips  were  compressed,  and  all  his  energies 
were  collected  and  ready  ;  but,  instead  of  advancing  to  fire, 
he  dropped  his  rifle  to  the  usual  position  of  a  sportsman 
in  readiness  to  catch  his  aim,  and  muttered  to  himself, 
unconscious  that  he  was  speaking  — 

"  No,  no  —  that  may  be  redskin  warfare,  but  it 's  not  a 
Christian's  gifts.  Let  the  miscreant  charge,  and  then  we  '11 
take  it  out  like  men  ;  for  the  canoe  he  must  not,  and  shall 
not  have.  No,  no  ;  let  him  have  time  to  load,  and  God  will 
take  care  of  the  right !  " 

All  this  time  the  Indian  had  been  so  intent  on  his  own 
movements  that  he  was  even  ignorant  that  his  enemy  was 
in  the  wood.  His  only  apprehension  was  that  the  canoe 
would  be  recovered  and  carried  away  before  he  might  be 
in  readiness  to  prevent  it.  He  had  sought  the  cover  from 
habit,  but  was  within  a  few  feet  of  the  fringe  of  bushes, 
and  could  be  at  the  margin  of  the  forest  in  readiness  to 
fire  in  a  moment.  The  distance  between  him  and  his  en 
emy  was  about  fifty  yards,  and  the  trees  were  so  arranged 
by  nature  that  the  line  of  sight  was  not  interrupted,  except 
by  the  particular  trees  behind  which  each  party  stood. 

His  rifle  was  no  sooner  loaded,  than  the  savage  glanced 
around  him,  and  advanced  incautiously  as  regarded  the 
real,  but  stealthily  as  respected  the  fancied,  position  of 
his  enemy,  until  he  was  fairly  exposed.  Then  Deerslayer 
stepped  from  behind  his  own  cover,  and  hailed  him. 

"  This-a-way,  redskin  ;  this-a-way,  if  you  're  looking  for 
me,"  he  called  out.  "  I  'm  young  in  war,  but  not  so  young 


90  THE  DEERSLAYER 

as  to  stand  on  an  open  beach  to  be  shot  downrerce  an  owl 
by  daylight.  It  rests  on  yourself  whether  it 's  peace  or  war 
atween  us ;  for  my  gifts  are  white  gifts,  and  I  'm  not  one 
of  them  that  thinks  it  valiant  to  slay  human  mortals,  singly, 
in  the  woods." 

The  savage  was  a  good  deal  startled  by  this  sudden  dis 
covery  of  the  danger  he  ran.  He  had  a  little  knowledge  of 
English,  however,  and  caught  the  drift  of  the  other's  mean-, 
ing.  He  was  also  too  well  schooled  to  betray  alarm,  but, 
dropping  the  butt  of  his  rifle  to  the  earth,  with  an  air  of 
confidence,  he  made  a  gesture  of  lofty  courtesy.  All  this  was 
done  with  the  ease  and  self-possession  of  one  accustomed 
to  consider  no  man  his  superior.  In  the  midst  of  this  con 
summate  acting,  however,  the  volcano  that  raged  within 
caused  his  eyes  to  glare,  and  his  nostrils  to  dilate,  like 
those  of  some  wild  beast  that  is  suddenly  prevented  from 
taking  the  fatal  leap. 

"  Two  canoes,"  he  said,  in  the  deep  guttural  tones  of 
his  race,  holding  up  the  number  of  fingers  he  mentioned, 
by  way  of  preventing  mistakes  ;  "  one  for  you  —  one  for 
me." 

"  No,  no,  Mingo,  that  will  never  do.  You  own  neither  ; 
and  neither  shall  you  have,  as  long  as  I  can  prevent  it. 
I  know  it 's  war  atween  your  people  and  mine,  but  that 's 
no  reason  why  human  mortals  should  slay  each  other,  like 
savage  creatur's  that  meet  in  the  woods  ;  go  your  way, 
then,  and  leave  me  to  go  mine.  The  world  is  large  enough 
for  us  both  ;  and  when  we  meet  fairly  in  battle,  why,  the 
Lord  will  order  the  fate  of  each  of  us." 

"  Good  !  "  exclaimed  the  Indian  ;  "  my  brother  mission 
ary —  great  talk  ;  all  about  Manitou." 


THE  CAPTURE  91 

"  Not  so  —  not  so,  warrior.  I  'm  only  a  hunter,  as  yet, 
though  afore  the  peace  is  made  't  is  like  enough  there  '11 
be  occasion  to  strike  a  blow  at  some  of  your  people.  Still, 
I  wish  it  to  be  done  in  fair  fight." 

"  Good  !  My  brother  very  young  —  but  he  is  very  wise. 
Little  warrior  —  great  talker.  Chief,  sometimes,  in  council. 
Good  !  " 

As  the  Indian  uttered  his  favorite  exclamation  of 
"  Good  !  "  they  walked  side  by  side,  towards  the  shore. 
There  was  no  apparent  distrust  in  the  manner  of  either, 
the  Indian  moving  in  advance,  as  if  he  wished  to  show  his 
companion  that  he  did  not  fear  turning  his  back  to  him. 
When  they  reached  the  open  ground,  the  former  pointed 
towards  the  boats,  saying  once  more, 

"  Two  canoes  —  one  for  me,  one  for  you.  All  have  his 
own." 

"  Not  so  fast,  my  friend,"  replied  Deerslayer.  "  You  're 
mistaken  in  thinking  that  canoe  's  your  own,  and  while 
we  're  about  it,  I  '11  just  shove  the  canoe  out  of  reach  at 
once,  as  the  quickest  way  of  settling  difficulties." 

While  Deerslayer  was  speaking,  he  put  a  foot  against 
the  end  of  the  light  boat,  and  giving  a  vigorous  shove,  he 
sent  it  out  into  the  lake  a  hundred  feet  or  more,  where, 
taking  the  true  current,  it  would  necessarily  float  past  the 
point,  and  be  in  no  further  danger  of  coming  ashore.  The 
savage  started  at  this  ready  and  decided  expedient,  and 
his  companion  saw  that  he  cast  a  hurried  and  fierce  glance 
at  his  own  canoe,  or  that  which  contained  the  paddles. 
The  change  of  manner,  however,  was  but  momentary,  and 
then  the  Iroquois  resumed  his  air  of  friendliness,  and  a 
smile  of  satisfaction. 


92  THE  DEERSLAYER 

11  Good !  "  he  repeated,  with  stronger  emphasis  than 
ever.  "  Young  head,  old  mind.  Know  how  to  settle  quar 
rel.  Farewell,  brother.  He  go  to  house  in  water  —  musk- 
rat  house  —  Injin  go  to  camp  ;  tell  chiefs  no  find  canoe." 

Deerslayer  was  not  sorry  to  hear  this  proposal,  and  he 
took  the  offered  hand  of  the  Indian  very  willingly.  The 
parting  words  were  friendly,  and  while  the  red  man  walked 
calmly  towards  the  wood,  with  the  rifle  in  the  hollow  of  his 
arm,  without  once  looking  back  in  uneasiness  or  distrust, 
the  white  man  moved  towards  the  remaining  canoe,  carry 
ing  his  piece  in  the  same  pacific  manner,  it  is  true,  but 
keeping  his  eyes  fastened  on  the  movements  of  the  other. 
This  distrust,  however,  seemed  to  be  altogether  uncalled 
for,  and  as  if  ashamed  to  have  entertained  it,  the  young 
man  averted  his  look,  and  stepped  carelessly  up  to  his  boat. 
Here  he  began  to  push  the  canoe  from  the  shore,  and  to 
make  his  other  preparations  for  departing.  He  might 
have  been  thus  employed  a  minute,  when,  happening  to 
turn  his  face  towards  the  land,  his  quick  and  certain  eye 
told  him  at  a  glance  the  imminent  jeopardy  in  which  his 
life  was  placed.  The  black,  ferocious  eyes  of  the  savage 
were  glancing  on  him,  like  those  of  a  crouching  tiger, 
through  a  small  opening  in  the  bushes,  and  the  muzzle 
of  his  rifle  seemed  already  to  be  opening  in  a  line  with 
his  own  body. 

Then,  indeed,  the  long  practice  of  Deerslayer,  as  a 
hunter,  did  him  good  service.  Accustomed  to  fire  with  the 
deer  on  the  bound,  and  often  when  the  precise  position  of 
the  animal's  body  had  in  a  manner  to  be  guessed  at,  he 
used  the  same  expedients  here.  To  cock  and  poise  his  rifle 
were  the  acts  of  a  single  moment  and  a  single  motion  ; 


THE  CAPTURE  93 

then  aiming  almost  without  sighting,  he  fired  into  the 
bushes  where  he  knew  a  body  ought  to  be,  in  order  to 
sustain  the  appalling  countenance  which  alone  was  visible. 
There  was  no  time  to  raise  the  piece  any  higher,  or  to  take 
a  more  deliberate  aim.  So  rapid  were  his  movements  that 
both  parties  discharged  their  pieces  at  the  same  instant, 
the  concussions  mingling  in  one  report.  The  mountains, 
indeed,  gave  back  but  a  single  echo.  Deerslayer  dropped 
his  piece,  and  stood  with  head  erect,  steady  as  one  of  the 
pines  in  the  calm  of  a  June  morning,  watching  the  result ; 
while  the  savage  gave  an  appalling  yell,  leaped  through 
the  bushes,  and  came  bounding  across  the  open  ground, 
flourishing  a  tomahawk.  Still  Deerslayer  moved  not,  but 
stood  with  his  unloaded  rifle  fallen  against  his  shoulders, 
while,  with  a  hunter's  habits,  his  hands  were  mechanically 
feeling  for  the  powder-horn  and  charger.  When  about 
forty  feet  from  his  enemy,  the  savage  hurled  his  keen 
weapon  ;  but  it  was  with  an  eye  so  vacant,  and  a  hand 
so  unsteady  and  feeble,  that  the  young  man  caught  it  by 
the  handle  as  it  was  flying  past  him.  At  that  instant  the 
Indian  staggered  and  fell  his  whole  length  on  the  ground. 
"  I  know'd  it —  I  know'd  it!"  exclaimed  Deerslayer, 
who  was  already  preparing  to  force  a  fresh  bullet  into  his 
rifle ;  "I  know'd  it  must  come  to  this,  as  soon  as  I  had 
got  the  range  from  the  creatur's  eyes.  A  man  sights  sud 
denly,  and  fires  quick  when  his  own  life  's  in  danger  ;  yes, 
I  know'd  it  would  come  to  this.  I  was  about  the  hundredth 
part  of  a  second  too  quick  for  him,  or  it  might  have  been  bad 
for  me  !  The  riptyle's  bullet  has  just  grazed  my  side  —  but 
say  what  you  will  for  or  agin  'em,  a  redskin  is  by  no  means 
as  sartain  with  powder  and  ball  as  a  white  man.  Their  gifts 


94  THE  DEERSLAYER 

don't  seem  to  lie  that-a-way.  Even  Chingachgook,  great 
as  he  is  in  other  matters,  is  n't  downright  deadly  with 
the  rifle." 

By  this  time  the  piece  was  reloaded,  and  Deerslayer, 
after  tossing  the  tomahawk  into  the  canoe,  advanced  to  his 
victim,  and  stood  over  him,  leaning  on  his  rifle,  in  melan 
in  choly  attention.  It  was  the  first  fellow-creature  against 
whom  he  had  ever  seriously  raised  his  own  hand ;  and 
regret  mingled  with  his  triumph.  The  Indian  was  not 
dead,  though  shot  directly  through  the  body.  He  lay  on 
his  back  motionless,  but  his  eyes,  now  full  of  consciousness, 
watched  each  action  of  his  victor  —  as  the  fallen  bird 
regards  the  fowler  —  jealous  of  every  movement.  The  man 
probably  expected  the  fatal  blow  which  was  to  precede  the 
loss  of  his  scalp  ;  or  perhaps  he  anticipated  that  this  latter 
act  of  cruelty  would  precede  his  death.  Deerslayer  read 
his  thoughts  ;  and  he  found  a  melancholy  satisfaction  in 
relieving  the  apprehensions  of  the  helpless  savage. 

"  No,  no,  redskin,"  he  said  ;  "  you  've  nothing  more  to 
fear  from  me.  I  am  of  a  Christian  stock,  and  scalping  is 
not  of  my  gifts.  I  '11  just  make  sartain  of  your  rifle,  and 
then  come  back  and  do  you  what  sarvice  I  can.  Though 
here  I  can't  stay  much  longer,  as  the  crack  of  three  rifles 
will  be  apt  to  bring  some  of  your  devils  down  upon  me." 

The  piece  was  found  where  its  owner  had  dropped  it, 
and  was  immediately  put  into  the  canoe.  Laying  his  own 
rifle  at  its  side,  Deerslayer  then  returned  and  stood  over 
the  Indian  again. 

"  Water  !  "  ejaculated  the  unfortunate  creature,  "  give 
poor  Injin  water." 

"  Aye,  water  you  shall  have.    I  '11  just  carry  you  down 


THE  DYING  INDIAN 


THE  CAPTURE  95 

to  the  lake  that  you  may  take  your  fill.  This  is  the  way, 
they  tell  me,  with  all  wounded  people  —  water  is  their 
greatest  comfort  and  delight." 

So  saying,  Deerslayer  raised  the  Indian  in  his  arms,  and 
carried  him  to  the  lake.  Here  he  first  helped  him  to  take 
an  attitude  in  which  he  could  appease  his  burning  thirst ; 
after  which  he  seated  himself  on  a  stone,  and  took  the 
head  of  his  wounded  adversary  in  his  own  lap,  and  endeav 
ored  to  soothe  his  anguish  in  the  best  manner  he  could. 

With  a  last  effort  the  Indian  warrior  roused  himself, 
endeavoring  to  express  his  thankfulness  for  the  other's 
kindnesses. 

"  Good  !  "  he  repeated,  for  this  was  an  English  word 
much  used  by  the  savages,  "  good  !  young  head  ;  young 
heartt  too.  Old  heart  tough  ;  no  shed  tear  —  what  he  call 
him  ? " 

"  Deerslayer  is  the  name  I  bear  now,  though  the  Dela- 
wares  have  said  that  when  I  get  back  from  this  warpath, 
I  shall  have  a  more  manly  title,  provided  I  can  'arn 
one."  • 

''That  good  name  for  boy  —  poor  name  for  warrior. 
He  get  better  quick.  No  fear  there"  —the  savage  had 
strength  sufficient,  under  the  strong  excitement  he  felt,  to 
raise  a  hand  and  tap  the  young  man  on  his  breast,  —  "  eye 
sartain  —  finger  lightning  —  aim,  death  —  great  warrior 
soon.  No  Deerslayer  —  Hawkeye  —  Hawkeye  —  Hawk- 
eye.  Shake  hand." 

Deerslayer  —  or  Hawkeye,  as  the  youth  was  then  first 
named,  for  in  after  years  he  bore  the  appellation  through 
out  all  that  region  —  Deerslayer  took  the  hand  of  the  sav 
age,  whose  last  breath  was  drawn  in  that  attitude. 


96  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  His  spirit  has  fled  !  "  said  Deerslayer,  in  a  suppressed, 
melancholy  voice.  ' '  Ah  's  me  !  Well,  to  this  we  must 
all  come,  sooner  or  later  ;  and  he  is  happiest,  let  his  skin 
be  of  what  color  it  may,  who  is  best  fitted  to  meet  it.  Here 
^  lies  the  body  of  no  doubt  a  brave  warrior,  and  the  soul  is 
already  flying  towards  its  heaven  or  hell,  whether  that  be 
a  happy  hunting-ground,  or  a  place  scant  of  game,  regions 
of  glory,  according  to  Christian  doctrine,  or  flames  of 
fire !  " 

Deerslayer  arose  as  soon  as  he  had  spoken.  Then  he 
placed  the  body  of  the  dead  man  in  a  sitting  posture,  with 
its  back  against  the  little  rock,  taking  the  necessary  care  to 
prevent  it  from  falling  or  in  any  way  settling  into  an  atti 
tude  that  might  be  thought  unseemly  by  the  sensitive, 
though  wild  notions  of  a  savage. 

"  No,  no,  warrior,"  he  murmured,  "  hand  of  mine  shall 
never  molest  your  scalp,  and  so  your  soul  may  rest  in 
peace  on  the  p'int  of  making  a  decent  appearance  when 
.the  body  comes  to  join  it,  in  your  own  land  of  spirits." 

•  When  this  duty  was  performed,  the  young  man  stood 
gazing  at  the  grim  countenance  of  his  fallen  foe. 

"  I  didn't  wish  your  life,  redskin,"  he  said,  "  but  you 
left  me  no  choice  atween  killing  or  being  killed.  Each 
party  acted  according  to  his  gifts,  I  suppose.  You  were 
treacherous,  according  to  your  natur'  in  war,  and  I  was  a 
little  oversightful,  as  I  'm  apt  to  be  in  trusting  others. 
Well,  this  is  my  first  battle  with  a  human  mortal,  though 
it 's  not  likely  to  be  the  last.  I  have  fou't  most  of  the 
creatur's  of  the  forest,  such  as  bears,  wolves,  panthers, 
and  catamounts,  but  this  is  the  beginning  with  the  redskins. 


THE  CAPTURE  97 

Hawkeye  !  That 's  not  a  bad  name  for  a  warrior,  sounding 
more  manful  and  valiant  than  Deerslayer  !  T  would  n't  be 
a  bad  title  to  begin  with,  and  it  has  been  fairly  'arned.  If 
'twas  Chingachgook,  now,  he  might  go  home  and  boast 
of  his  deeds,  and  the  chiefs  would  name  him  Hawkeye  in 
a  minute  ;  but  it  don't  become  white  blood  to  brag,  and 
't  is  n't  easy  to  see  how  the  matter  can  be  known  unless  I 
do.  Well,  well,  —  everything  is  in  the  hands  of  Provi 
dence  :  —  still,  I  should  like  Chingachgook  to  know  that 
I  have  n't  discredited  the  Delawares,  or  my  training  !  " 

Soliloquy  and  reflection  received  a  startling  interruption, 
however,  by  the  sudden  appearance  of  a  second  Indian  on 
the  lake  shore,  a  few  hundred  yards  from  the  point.  This 
man,  as  soon  as  he  saw  himself  discovered  by  Deerslayer, 
gave  a  loud  yell,  which  was  answered  by  a  dozen  voices 
from  different  parts  of  the  mountain-side.  There  was  no 
longer  any  time  for  delay  ;  in  another  minute  the  boat  was 
quitting  the  shore  under  long  and  steady  sweeps  of  the 
paddle. 

The  dead  Indian  lay  in  grim  quiet  where  Deerslayer 
had  left  him,  the  warrior  who  had  shown  himself  from  the 
forest  had  already  vanished,  and  the  woods  themselves  were 
as  silent  and  seemingly  deserted  as  the  day  they  came 
fresh  from  the  hands  of  their  great  Creator.  This  pro 
found  stillness,  broken  only  by  the  sound  of  the  hunter's 
paddle-strokes,  lasted,  however,  but  a  moment.  When  time 
had  been  given  to  the  scouts  of  the  enemy  to  reconnoitre, 
they  burst  out  of  the  thicket  upon  the  naked  point,  filling 
the  air  with  yells  of  fury  at  discovering  the  death  of  their 
companion.  These  cries  were  immediately  succeeded  by 


98  THE  DEERSLAYER 

shouts  of  delight  when  they  reached  the  body  and  cluscered 
eagerly  around  it.  Deerslayer  was  a  sufficient  adept  in 
the  usages  of  the  natives  to  understand  the  reason  of  the 
change.  The  yell  was  the  customary  lamentation  at  the 
loss  of  a  warrior,  the  shout  a  sign  of  rejoicing  that  the  con 
queror  had  not  been  able  to  secure  his  scalp  ;  the  trophy 
without  which  a  victory  is  never  considered  complete.  The 
distance  at  which  the  canoes  lay  prevented  any  attempts 
to  injure  the  conqueror. 

As  soon  as  Deerslayer  believed  himself  to  be  at  a  safe 
distance,  he  ceased  his  efforts,  permitting  the  little  bark  to 
drift,  while  he  took  a  survey  of  the  state  of  things.  The 
canoe  first  sent  adrift  was  floating  before  the  air,  quite  a 
quarter  of  a  mile  above  him,  and  a  little  nearer  to  the  shore 
than  he  wished,  now  that  he  knew  more  of  the  savages 
were  so  near  at  hand.  The  canoe  shoved  from  the  point 
was  within  a  few  yards  of  him,  he  having  directed  his  own 
course  towards  it  on  quitting  the  land.  This  nearest  one 
was  soon  in  tow,  when  he  proceeded  in  quest  of  the  other, 
which  was  all  this  time  floating  up  the  lake.  The  eye  of 
Deerslayer  was  no  sooner  fastened  on  this  last  boat,  than  it 
struck  him  that  it  was  nearer  to  the  shore  than  it  would 
have  been  had  it  merely  followed  the  course  of  the  gentle 
current  of  air.  He  began  to  suspect  the  influence  of  some 
unseen  current  in  the  water,  and  he  quickened  his  exer 
tions,  in  order  to  regain  possession  of  it  before  it  could 
drift  in  to  a  dangerous  proximity  to  the  woods.  On  get 
ting  nearer,  he  thought  that  the  canoe  had  a  perceptible 
motion  through  the  water,  and,  as  it  lay  broadside  to  the 
air,  that  this  motion  was  taking  it  towards  the  land.  A 


THE  CAPTURE  99 

few  vigorous  strokes  of  the  paddle  carried  him  still  nearer, 
when  the  mystery  was  explained.  Something  was  evidently 
in  motion  on  the  off-side  of  the  canoe,  or  that  which  was 
furthest  from  himself,  and  closer  scrutiny  showed  that  it 
was  a  naked  human  arm.  An  Indian  was  lying  in  the  bot 
tom  of  the  canoe,  and  was  propelling  it  slowly  but  certainly 
to  the  shore,  using  his  hand  as  a  paddle.  Deerslayer 
understood  the  whole  artifice  at  a  glance.  A  savage  had 
swum  off  to  the  boat  while  he  was  occupied  with  his  en 
emy  on  the  point,  got  possession,  and  was  using  these 
means  to  urge  it  to  the  shore. 

Satisfied  that  the  man  in  the  canoe  could  have  no  arms, 
Deerslayer  did  not  hesitate  to  dash  close  alongside  of  the 
retiring  boat,  without  deeming  it  necessary  to  raise  his  own 
rifle.  As  soon  as  the  wash  of  the  water,  which  he  made 
in  approaching,  became  audible  to  the  prostrate  savage, 
the  latter  sprang  to  his  feet,  and  uttered  a  yell,  and  the 
next  instant  his  naked  body  disappeared  in  the  water. 
When  he  rose  to  take  breath,  it  was  at  the  distance  of  sev 
eral  yards  from  the  canoe,  and  the  hasty  glance  he  threw 
behind  him  denoted  how  much  he  feared  the  arrival  of  a 
fatal  messenger  from  the  rifle  of  his  foe.  But  the  young 
man  made  no  indication  of  any  hostile  intention.  Deliber 
ately  securing  the  canoe  to  the  others,  he  began  to  paddle 
from  the  shore ;  and  by  the  time  the  Indian  reached  the 
land,  and  had  shaken  himself,  like  a  spaniel  on  quitting 
the  water,  his  dreaded  enemy  was  already  beyond  rifle-shot 
on  his  way  to  the  castle,  paddling  as  fast  as  his  tows 
would  allow  him. 

By  this   time   the  sun  had  not  only  risen,  but  it  had 


100  THE  DEERSLAYER 

appeared  over  the  eastern  mountains  and  was  shedding  a 
flood  of  glorious  light  on  the  lake,  and  bringing  to  Deer- 
slayer's  attention  anew  the  picturesque  appearance  of  the 
castle  with  its  rude,  massive  logs  covered  with  their  rough 
bark,  and  the  projecting  roof.  As  he  drew  nearer  to  the 
building  he  saw  that  Judith  and  Hetty  stood  on  the  plat 
form,  awaiting  his  approach  with  manifest  anxiety. 


PART  III.   THE  RANSOM 


CHAPTER   I 

Neither  of  the  girls  spoke  as  Deerslayer  stood  before 
them  alone,  his  countenance  betraying  all  the  apprehension 
he  felt  on  account  of  two  absent  members  of  their  party. 

"  Father !  "  Judith  at  length  exclaimed,  succeeding  in 
uttering  the  word,  as  it  might  be  by  a  desperate  effort. 

11  He  's  met  with  misfortune,  and  there  's  no  use  in  con 
cealing  it,"  answered  Deerslayer,  in  his  direct  and  simple- 
minded  manner.  "  He  and  Hurry  are  in  Mingo  hands, 
and  Heaven  only  knows  what 's  to  be  the  tarmination. 
I  've  got  the  canoes  safe,  and  that 's  a  consolation,  since 
the  vagabonds  will  have  to  swim  for  it,  or  raft  off,  to 
come  near  this  place.  At  sunset  we  '11  be  reinforced  by 
Chingachgook,  if  I  can  manage  to  get  him  into  a  canoe ; 
and  then,  I  think,  we  two  can  answer  for  the  ark  and  the 
castle,  till  some  of  the  officers  in  the  garrisons  hear  of  this 
warpath,  which  sooner  or  later  must  be  the  case,  when  we 
may  look  for  succor  from  that  quarter,  if  from  no  other." 

"The  officers !  "  exclaimed  Judith,  impatiently,  her  color 
deepening.  "  Who  thinks  or  speaks  of  the  heartless  gal 
lants  now  ?  We  are  sufficient  of  ourselves  to  defend  the 
castle.  But  what  of  my  father,  and  of  poor  Hurry  Harry  ?  " 

Deerslayer  then  commenced  a  succinct  but  clear  narra 
tive  of  all  that  occurred  during  the  night,  in  no  manner 


102  THE  DEERSLAYER 

concealing  what  had  befallen  his  two  companions,  or  his 
own  opinion  of  what  might  prove  to  be  the  consequences. 
The  girls  listened  with  profound  attention,  but  little  was  said 
by  either,  and  as  soon  as  the  recital  was  done,  they  busied 
themselves  in  making  the  preparations  for  the  morning 
meal,  of  which  all  were  in  need,  and  especially  Deerslayer 
after  the  exertions  of  the  night.  The  meal  was  nearly 
ended  before  a  syllable  was  uttered  ;  then  Judith  spoke. 

"  Father  would  have  relished  this  fish  !  "  she  exclaimed  ; 
"  he  says  the  salmon  of  the  lakes  is  almost  as  good  as  the 
salmon  of  the  sea." 

1 '  Your  father  has  been  acquainted  with  the  sea,  they 
tell  me,  Judith,"  returned  the  young  man.  "  Hurry  Harry 
tells  me  he  was  once  a  sailor." 

Judith  first  looked  perplexed  ;  then,  with  an  impulse 
towards  confidence,  she  became  suddenly  communicative. 

11  If  Hurry  knows  anything  of  father's  history,  I  would 
he  had  told  it  to  me !  "  she  cried.  "  Sometimes  I  think, 
too,  he  was  once  a  sailor,  and  then  again  I  think  he  was 
not.  If  that  chest  were  open,  or  if  it  could  speak,  it  might 
let  us  into  his  whole  history.  But  its  fastenings  are  too 
strong  to  be  broken  like  pack-thread." 

Deerslayer  turned  to  the  chest  in  question,  and  examined 
it  closely.  Although  discolored,  and  bearing  proofs  of 
having  received  much  ill-treatment,  he  saw  that  it  was  of 
materials  and  workmanship  altogether  superior  to  anything 
of  the  same  sort  he  had  ever  before  beheld.  The  wood 
was  dark,  rich,  and  had  once  been  highly  polished,  though 
the  treatment  it  had  received  left  little  gloss  on  its  surface, 
and  various  scratches  -and  indentations  proved  the  rough 
collisions  that  it  had  encountered  with  substances  still 


THE  RANSOM  103 

harder  than  itself.  The  corners  were  firmly  bound  with 
steel,  elaborately  and  richly  wrought,  while  the  locks,  of 
which  it  had  no  less  than  three,  and  the  hinges,  were  of 
a  fashion  and  workmanship  that  would  have  attracted 
attention  even  in  a  warehouse  of  curious  furniture.  This 
chest  was  quite  large ;  and  when  Deerslayer  arose,  and 
endeavored  to  raise  an  end  by  its  massive  handle,  he 
found  that  the  weight  fully  corresponded  with  the  external 
appearance. 

"Did  you  never  see  that  chest  opened,  Judith?"  the 
young  man  demanded. 

11  Never.  No  one  here  has  ever  seen  its  lid  raised,  unless 
it  be  father  ;  nor  do  I  even  know  that  he  has  ever  seen  it." 

"  Now,  you  're  wrong,  Judith,"  Hetty  quietly  answered. 
"  Father  has  raised  the  lid,  and  /  've  seen  him  do  it." 

A  feeling  of  manliness  kept  the  mouth  of  Deerslayer 
shut ;  for,  while  he  would  not  have  hesitated  about  going 
far  beyond  what  would  be  thought  the  bounds  of  propriety, 
in  questioning  the  elder  sister,  he  had  just  scruples  about 
taking  what  might  be  thought  an  advantage  of  the  feeble 
intellect  of  the  younger.  Judith,  being  under  no  such 
restraint,  however,  turned  quickly  to  the  last  speaker  and 
continued  the  discourse. 

"  When  and  where  did  you  ever  see  that  chest  opened, 
Hetty  ?  " 

"  Here,  and  again  and  again.  Father  often  opens  it 
when  you  are  away,  though  he  don't  in  the  least  mind  my 
being  by,  and  seeing  all  he  does,  as  well  as  hearing  all  he 
says." 

"  And  what  is  it  that  he  does,  and  what  does  he  say  ?  " 

"  That  I  cannot  telljw/,  Judith,"  returned  the  other  in 


104  THE  DEERSLAYER 

a  low  but  resolute  voice.  "Father's  secrets  are  not  my 
secrets." 

"Secrets!  This  is  stranger  still,  Deerslayer, — that 
father  should  tell  them  to  Hetty,  and  not  tell  them  to  me  !  " 

11  There  's  good  reason  for  that,  Judith,  though  you  're 
not  to  know  it.  Father  's  not  here  to  answer  for  himself, 
and  I  '11  say  no  more  about  it," 

Judith  and  Deerslayer  looked  surprised,  and  for  a  min 
ute  the  first  seemed  pained.  But,  suddenly  recollecting 
herself,  she  turned  away  from  her  sister,  as  if  in  pity  for 
her  weakness,  and  addressed  the  young  man. 

"  You  've  told  but  half  your  story,"  she  said,  earnestly. 
' '  We  heard  rifles  under  the  eastern  mountain  ;  the  echoes 
were  full  and  long,  and  came  so  soon  after  the  reports, 
that  the  pieces  must  have  been  fired  on  or  quite  near  to 
the  shore.  Our  ears  are  used  to  these  signs,  and  are  not 
to  be  deceived." 

"  They  've  done  their  duty,  gal,  this  time  ;  yes,  they  've 
done  their  duty.  Rifles  have  been  sighted  this  morning, 
aye,  and  triggers  pulled,  too,  though  not  as  often  as  they 
might  have  been.  One  warrior  has  gone  to  his  happy 
hunting-grounds,  and  that 's  the  whole  of  it.  A  man  of 
white  blood  and  white  gifts  is  not  to  be  expected  to  boast 
of  his  explites,  and  to  flourish  scalps." 

"  You  have  been  fighting  the  savages,  Deerslayer,  singly 
and  by  yourself  !  "  she  said.  "In  your  wish  to  take  care 
of  us  —  of  Hetty  —  of  me,  perhaps,  you've  fought  the 
enemy !  " 

"  I  've  fou't,  Judith ;  yes,  I  have  fou't  the  inimy,  and 
that,  too,  for  the  first  time  in  my  life.  However,  what  has 
yet  been  done  is  no  great  matter,  but  should  Chingachgook 


THE  RANSOM  105 

come  to  the  rock  this  evening,  as  is  agreed  atween  us, 
and  I  get  him  off  it  onbeknown  to  the  savages,  or,  if 
known  to  them,  agin  their  wishes  and  designs,  then  may 
we  all  look  to  something  like  warfare,  afore  the  Mingos 
shall  get  possession  of  either  the  castle,  or  the  ark,  or 
yourselves." 

"  Tell  me  more  of  this  Chingachgook.  Is  it  to-night 
that  you  meet  him  and  why  does  he  come  here  ?  " 

"  Aye,  this  evening  at  sunset  at  the  meeting-rock  at  the 
foot  of  the  lake.  As  to  why  he  comes  here,  I  see  no 
harm  in  telling  you  and  Hetty  his  errand.  You  must  know 
that  Chingachgook  is  a  comely  Injin,  and  is  much  looked 
upon  and  admired  by  the  young  women  of  his  tribe,  both 
on  account  of  his  family,  and  on  account  of  himself.  Now 
there  is  a  chief  that  has  a  daughter  called  Wah-ta-Wah, 
which  is  intarpreted  into  Hist-oh-Hist,  in  the  English 
tongue,  the  rarest  gal  among  the  Delawares,  and  the  one 
most  sought  a'ter  and  craved  for  a  wife  by  all  the  young 
warriors  of  the  nation.  Well,  Chingachgook,  among  others, 
took  a  fancy  to  Wah-ta-Wah,  and  Wah-ta-Wah  took  a 
fancy  to  him.  Two  moons  ago,  Wah-ta-Wah  went  with 
her  father  and  mother  to  fish  for  salmon  on  the  western 
streams,  and  while  thus  empl'yed  the  gal  vanished.  For 
several  weeks  we  could  get  no  tidings  of  her ;  but  here, 
ten  days  since,  a  runner  brought  word  that  she  had  been 
stolen  by  the  inimy,  who  had  adopted  her,  and  wanted 
her  to  marry  a  young  Mingo.  The  message  said  that  the 
party  intended  to  hunt  and  forage  through  this  region  for 
a  month  or  two,  afore  it  went  back  into  the  Canadas,  and 
that  if  we  could  contrive  to  get  on  a  scent  in  this  quarter, 
something  might  turn  up  that  would  lead  to  our  getting 


106  THE  DEERSLAYER 

the  maiden  off.  So  that  is  why  we  chose  this  particular 
meeting-place,  and  now  we  must  plan  how  to  get  him  off 
safely." 

As  the  hour  when  Chingachgook  was  expected  still 
remained  distant,  Deerslayer  had  time  enough  to  examine 
into  the  state  of  the  defenses,  and  to  make  such  additional 
arrangements  as  the  exigency  of  the  moment  seemed  to 
require.  The  experience  and  foresight  of  Hutter  had  left, 
however,  little  to  be  done  in  these  particulars  ;  and  Judith 
was  sufficiently  well  acquainted  with  her  father's  schemes 
of  defense  to  be  able  to  explain  all  the  details  to  the  young 
man,  and  thus  save  him  much  time  and  trouble  in  his 
preparations. 

Little  was  to  be  apprehended  during  the  day.  They 
knew  that  since  they  were*  in  possession  of  all  the  canoes 
and  of  the  ark,  no  other  vessel  was  to  be  found  on  the  lake. 
Nevertheless,  Deerslayer  was  well  aware  that  a  vessel  was 
soon  made  from  the  dead  trees  which  were  to  be  found  in 
abundance  near  the  water,  did  the  savages  deem  it  expe 
dient  to  expose  themselves  to  the  risks  of  an  open  assault ; 
and  this  danger  made  him  wish  ardently  for  the  presence 
and  succor  of  his  Mohican  friend. 


CHAPTER  II 

At  length  the  hour  arrived  when  it  became  necessary 
to  proceed  to  the  appointed  place  of  meeting.  Judith  and 
Hetty  entered  one  of  the  canoes,  —  the  other  two  had 
been  floated  into  a  locked  enclosure  where  they  were  hid 
den  and  secure,  —  and  Deerslayer,  after  making  all  fast 
inside  the  dwelling  with  bolt  and  bar,  appeared  at  a  trap, 


THE  RANSOM  107 

from  which  he  descended  into  the  canoe.  This  done,  he 
fastened  this  door  by  which  he  had  come  out  with  a  mas 
sive  staple  and  stout  padlock.  The  three  were  now  fastened 
out  of  the  dwelling,  which  could  only  be  entered  by  vio 
lence,  or  by  following  the  course  taken  by  the  young  man 
in  quitting  it. 

He  next  took  a  careful  survey  with  the  glass  of  the 
entire  shore  of  the  lake,  as  far  as  his  own  position  would 
allow.  Not  a  living  thing  was  visible,  a  few  birds  excepted, 
and  even  the  last  fluttered  about  in  the  shade  of  the  trees, 
as  if  unwilling  to  encounter  the  heat  of  a  sultry  afternoon. 

"  Nothing  is  stirring,  hows 'ever,"  exclaimed  Deerslayer, 
as  he  finally  lowered  the  glass,  and  prepared  to  enter  the 
ark.  "  If  the  vagabonds  do  harbor  mischief  in  their  minds, 
they  are  too  cunning  to  let  it  be  seen  ;  it 's  true  a  raft  may 
be  in  preparation  in  the  woods,  but  it  has  not  yet  been 
brought  down  to  the  lake.  They  can't  guess  that  we  are 
about  to  quit  the  castle,  and,  if  they  did,  they  've  no  means 
of  knowing  where  we  intend  to  go.  Still,  they  've  eyes 
and  legs,  and  will  see  in  what  direction  we  steer,  and 
will  be  sartain  to  follow  us.  I  shall  strive  to  baffle  'em, 
hows'ever,  by  heading  the  scow  in  all  manner  of  ways  — 
first  in  one  quarter  and  then  in  another  —  until  they  get 
to  be  a-leg-weary,  and  tired  of  tramping  a'ter  us." 

There  was  a  gentle  breeze  from  the  north,  and  the  sun 
lay  above  the  western  hills,  at  an  elevation  that  promised 
rather  more  than  two  hours  of  day.  The  sailing  of  the  ark 
was  never  very  swift,  but  a  few  minutes  satisfied  Deerslayer 
that  it  was  moving  at  the  rate  of  some  three  or  four  miles 
an  hour,  which  if  the  wind  held  good  would  bring  them 
easily  to  the  rock,  a  distance  of  a  little  more  than  two 


108  THE  DEERSLAYER 

leagues  from  the  castle.  In  the  guidance  of  the  craft  he 
was  as  good  as  his  word.  By  sheering  it  first  to  one  side 
of  the  lake,  and  then  to  the  other,  he  endeavored  to  create 
an  uncertainty  as  to  his  object,  so  that  the  savages,  who 
were  unquestionably  watching  his  movements,  would  be  at 
a  loss  to  know  in  which  direction  to  hasten  to  meet  him. 

Until  he  came  near  the  end  of  the  lake,  Deerslayer 
stood  as  near  the  western  shore  as  possible,  with  a  view  to 
aiding  this  deception.  Then  causing  Judith  and  Hetty  to 
enter  the  cabin,  he  suddenly  threw  the  head  of  the  scow 
round,  and  began  to  make  the  best  of  his  way  towards 
the  outlet,  where  only  twenty-four  hours  before  he  and  his 
companion  had  come  in  search  of  this  same  craft.  When 
distant  some  two  hundred  yards  from  the  shore,  he  took 
in  his  sail,  and  dropped  his  anchor,  suffering  the  vessel, 
however,  to  drift  until  the  stern  was  within  fifteen  or 
eighteen  feet  of  the  rock.  He  did  not,  however,  venture 
so  hear  the  shore  without  taking  every  precaution  to  effect 
a  retreat  in  haste.  He  held  the  anchor-line  in  his  hand, 
and  Judith  was  stationed  at  a  loophole  on  the  side  of  the 
cabin  next  the  shore,  where  she  could  watch  the  beach  and 
the  rocks,  and  give  timely  notice  of  the  approach  of  either 
friend  or  foe. 

The  sun  had  not  quite  disappeared  from  the  lake  and 
valley,  and  Deerslayer  knew  Indian  punctuality  too  well 
to  anticipate  any  unmanly  haste  in  his  friend.  The  great 
question  was  whether,  surrounded  by  enemies  as  he  was 
known  to  be,  he  had  escaped  their  toils.  The  occurrences  of 
the  last  twenty-four  hours  must  be  a  secret  to  him,  and,  like 
himself,  Chingachgook  was  yet  young  on  a  warpath.  It  was 
true,  he  came  prepared  to  encounter  the  party  that  withheld 


THE  RANSOM 

his  promised  bride,  but  he  had  no  means  of  ascertaining 
the  extent  of  the  danger  he  ran,  or  the  precise  positions 
occupied  by  either  friends  or  foes. 

"Is  the  rock  empty,  Judith  ?  "  inquired  Deerslayer,  as 
soon  as  he  had  checked  the  drift  of  the  ark,  deeming  it 
imprudent  to  venture  unnecessarily  near  the  shore.  "  Is 
anything  to  be  seen  of  the  Delaware  chief  ?  " 

"  Nothing,  Deerslayer.  Neither  rock,  shore,  tree,  nor 
lake  seems  to  have  ever  held  a  human  form." 

"Keep  close,  Judith  —  keep  close,  Hetty  —  a  rifle  has 
a  prying  eye,  a  nimble  foot,  and  a  desperate  fatal  tongue. 
Keep  close,  then,  but  keep  up  actyve  looks,  and  — 

Deerslayer  was  interrupted  by  an  exclamation  from 
Judith, 

"What  is  't  ?  —  what  is  't,  Judith?"  he  hastily  de 
manded.  "Is  anything  to  be  seen  ?  " 

"  There  is  a  man  on  the  rock  !  —  an  Indian  warrior  in 
his  paint,  and  armed  !  " 

"  Where  does  he  wear  his  hawk's  feather  ?  "  eagerly 
added  Deerslayer,  relaxing  his  hold  of  the  line,  in  readi 
ness  to  drift  nearer  the  place  of  rendezvous.  "Is  it  fast 
to  the  warlock,  or  does  he  carry  it  above  the  left  ear  ?  " 

'  T  is  as  you  say,  above  the  left  ear ;  he  smiles,  too, 
and  mutters  the  word  '  Mohican.'  ' 

"  God  be  praised,  'tis  the  Sarpent  at  last!  "  exclaimed 
the  young  man,  suffering  the  line  to  slip  through  his  hands, 
until  hearing  a  light  bound,  in  the  other  end  of  the  craft, 
he  instantly  checked  the  rope,  and  began  to  haul  it  in  again, 
under  the  assurance  that  his  object  was  effected. 

At  that  moment  the  door  of  the  cabin  was  opened 
hastily,  and  the  Indian  who  had  stood  on  the  rock,  darting 


HO  THE  DEERSLAYER 

through  the  little  room,  stood  at  Deerslayer's  side,  simply 
uttering  the  exclamation  "  Hugh !  "  At  the  next  instant 
Judith  and  Hetty  shrieked,  and  the  air  was  rilled  with  the 
yell  of  twenty  savages,  who  came  leaping  through  the 
branches  down  the  bank,  some  actually  falling  headlong 
into  the  water  in  their  haste. 

''Pull,  Deerslayer !  "  cried  Judith,  "pull  for  life  and 
death  —  the  lake  is  full  of  savages  wading  after  us !  " 

The  young  men  —  for  Chingachgook  immediately  came 
to  his  friend's  assistance  —  needed  no  second  bidding  ;  but 
applied  themselves  to  their  task  with  all  their  strength. 

"  What  now,  Judith  ?  —  what  next  ?  Do  the  Mingos 
still  follow,  or  are  we  quit  of  'em  for  the  present  ?  "  de 
manded  Deerslayer,  when  he  felt  the  rope  yielding,  as  if 
the  scow  was  going  ahead. 

"  The  scow  moves !  and  now  the  water  deepens  to  the 
armpits  of  the  foremost ;  still  they  rush  forward,  and  will 
seize  the  ark  !  " 

A  slight  scream,  and  then  a  joyous  laugh  followed  from 
the  girl ;  the  first  produced  by  a  desperate  effort  of  their 
pursuers,  and  the  last  by  its  failure ;  the  scow,  which  had 
now  got  fairly  in  motion,  gliding  ahead  into  deep  water 
out  of  the  reach  of  the  enemy. 

'  They  have  vanished  !  —  one,  the  last,  is  just  burying 
himself  in  the  bushes  of  the  bank  —  there,  he  has  disap 
peared  in  the  shadows  of  the  trees !  You  have  got  your 
friend,  and  we  are  all  safe !  " 

The  two  men  did  not  cease  their  exertions  until  the 
anchor  was  pulled  in,  and  the  ark  was  well  out  in  the  open 
lake  again.  Then  Deerslayer  turned  to  his  friend,  Chin 
gachgook,  a  tall,  handsome,  and  athletic  young  warrior, 


THE  RANSOM  1 1 1 

who  had  cast  observant  glances  at  the  strange  habitation 
and  at  the  two  girls  ;  still  he  spoke  not,  and  most  of  all 
did  he  avoid  the  betrayal  of  any  curiosity. 

"Judith  and  Hetty,"  said  Deerslayer,  with  an  untaught, 
natural  courtesy,  "  this  is  the  Mohican  chief  of  whom 
you  've  heard  me  speak ;  Chingachgook,  as  he  is  called, 
which  signifies  the  Big  Sarpent  — so  named  for  his  wis 
dom,  and  prudence,  and  cunning;  my  'arliest  and  latest 
friend." 

Although  Chingachgook  both  understood  and  spoke 
English,  he  was  not  fluent  in  its  use  ;  and  when  he  had 
met  Judith's  cordial  shake  of  the  hand,  and  Hetty's  milder 
welcome  in  the  courteous  manner  that  became  a  chief,  he 
turned  away,  apparently  to  await  the  moment  when  it  might 
suit  his  friend  to  enter  into  an  explanation  of  his  future  in 
tentions,  and  to  give  a  narrative  of  what  had  passed  since 
their  separation.  The  other  understood  his  meaning,  and 
acted  accordingly. 

1 '  This  wind  will  soon  die  away  altogether,  now  the  sun 
is  down,"  he  said,  "and  there  is  no  need  of  rowing  agin 
it.  In  half  an  hour  or  so,  it  will  either  be  a  flat  calm  or 
the  air  will  come  off  from  the  south  shore,  when  we  will 
begin  our  journey  back  agin  to  the  castle ;  in  the  mean 
while,  the  Delaware  and  I  will  talk  over  matters,  and  get 
correct  ideas  of  each  other's  notions  consarning  the  course 
we  ought  to  take." 

The  girls  withdrew  into  the  cabin  to  prepare  the  even 
ing  meal,  while  the  two  young  men  took  their  seats  on  the 
head  of  the  scow,  and  began  to  converse  in  the  language 
of  the  Delawares.  Deerslayer  gave  a  brief  narrative  of  the 
events  which  had  taken  place  since  his  arrival  on  the  lake, 


1 1 2  THE  DEERSLAYER 

abstaining,  however,  from  saying  anything  about  his  en 
counter  with,  and  victory  over,  the  Iroquois  ;  but  when 
he  had  finished  his  friend  asked  searchingly,  "  And  is 
that  all  that  the  young  paleface  hunter  has  done  on 
the  lake?" 

The  gaze  that  the  Indian  fastened  on  his  companion  was 
so  keen  that  it  seemed  to  mock  the  gathering  darkness  of 
the  night.  As  the  other  furtively  returned  his  look,  he  saw 
the  two  black  eyes  glistening  on  him,  like  the  balls  of  the 
panther,  or  those  of  the  penned  wolf.  He  understood  the 
meaning  of  this  glowing  gaze,  and  answered  evasively,  as 
he  fancied  would  best  become  the  modesty  of  a  white 
man's  gifts. 

1  'T  is  as  you  suspect,  Sarpent ;  yes,  't  is  somewhat  that- 
a-way.  I  have  fell  in  with  the  inimy,  and  I  suppose  it  may 
be  said  I  've  fou't  them,  too." 

An  exclamation  of  delight  and  exultation  escaped  the 
Indian  ;  and  then,  laying  his  hand  eagerly  on  the  arm  of 
his  friend,  he  asked  if  there  were  any  scalps  taken. 

"  That  I  will  maintain,  in  the  face  of  all  the  Delaware 
tribe,  old  Tamenund,  and  your  father,  the  great  Uncas, 
as  well  as  the  rest,  is  agin  white  gifts  !  My  scalp  is  on  my 
head,  as  you  can  see,  Sarpent,  and  that  was  the  only  scalp 
that  was  in  danger,  when  one  side  was  altogether  Christian 
and  white." 

"Did  no  warrior  fall?  —  Deerslayer  did  not  get  his 
name  by  being  slow  of  sight,  or  clumsy  with  the  rifle !  " 

"  In  that  particular,  chief,  you  're  nearer  reason,  and 
therefore  nearer  being  right.  I  may  say  one  Mingo  fell." 

"  A  chief !  "  demanded  the  other,  with  startling  vehe 
mence. 


THE  RANSOM  113 

"  Nay,  that 's  more  than  I  know  or  can  say.  He  was  art 
ful,  and  treacherous,  and  stout-hearted,  and  may  well  have 
gained  popularity  enough  with  his  people  to  be  named  to 
that  rank.  The  man  fou't  well,  though  his  eye  was  n't  quick 
enough  for  one  who  had  had  his  schooling  in  your  company, 
Delaware." 

"  My  brother  and  friend  struck  the  body  ?  " 

"  That  was  uncalled  for,  seeing  that  the  Mingo  died  in 
my  arms.  The  truth  may  as  well  be  said  at  once  ;  he  fou't 
like  a  man  of  red  gifts,  and  I  fou't  like  a  man  with  gifts  of 
my  own  color.  God  gave  me  the  victory  ;  I  could  n't  fly 
in  the  face  of  his  providence  by  forgetting  my  birth  and 
natur'.  White  He  made  me,  and  white  I  shall  live  and  die." 

"  Good  !  Deerslayer  is  a  paleface,  and  has  paleface  hands. 
A  Delaware  will  look  for  the  scalp,  and  hang  it  on  a  pole, 
and  sing  a  song  in  his  honor,  when  we  go  back  to  our  peo 
ple.  The  honor  belongs  to  the  tribe  ;  it  must  not  be  lost." 

"This  is  easy  talking,  but  'twill  not  be  as  easy  doing. 
The  Mingo's  body  is  in  the  hands  of  his  fri'nds,  and,  no 
doubt,  is  hid  in  some  hole,  where  Delaware  cunning  will 
never  be  able  to  get  at  the  scalp." 

The  young  man  then  gave  his  friend  a  succinct,  but 
clear  account  of  the  event  of  the  morning,  concealing  only, 
with  a  careful  attention  to  avoid  the  Indian  habit  of  boast 
ing,  all  mention  of  the  new  name  bestowed  on  him  by  the 
dying  warrior.  Chingachgook  again  expressed  his  satis 
faction  at  the  honor  won  by  his  friend,  and  then  took  up 
the  narrative  in  his  turn.  His  account  was  clear  and  short, 
beginning  with  the  history  of  his  departure  from  the  vil 
lages  of  his  people,  and  his  arrival  in  the  valley  of  the  Sus- 
quehannah.  On  reaching  the  latter,  which  was'  at  a  point 


114  THE  DEERSLAYER 

only  half  a  mile  south  of  the  outlet,  he  had  soon  struck  a 
trail,  which  gave  him  notice  of  the  probable  vicinity  of  en 
emies.  Yet  although  the  Delaware  —  as  we  shall  call  him, 
since  the  Mohican  tribe  of  which  he  was  a  chief  had  become 
for  the  time  being  part  of  the  greater  Delaware  nation  — 
had  been  closely  watching  his  enemies  for  hours,  their 
sudden  and  close  pursuit,  as  he  reached  the  scow,  was  as 
much  a  matter  of  surprise  to  himself  as  it  had  been  to  his 
friend.  He  could  only  account  for  it  by  the  fact  of  their 
being  more  numerous  than  he  had  at  first  supposed,  and 
by  their  having  out  parties,  of  the  existence  of  which  he 
was  ignorant.  He  had  seen  and  watched  the  ark  from  the 
moment  it  hove  in  sight,  though  he  was  necessarily  igno 
rant  of  the  presence  of  his  friend  upon  it.  The  uncertainty 
of  its  movements,  and  the  fact  that  it  was  unquestionably 
managed  by  white  men,  led  him  to  conjecture  the  truth, 
however,  and  he  held  himself  in  readiness  to  get  on  board 
whenever  a  suitable  occasion  might  offer.  As  the  sun  drew 
near  the  horizon  he  repaired  to  the  rock,  where,  on  emerg 
ing  from  the  forest,  he  was  gratified  to  find  the  ark  lying 
apparently  in  readiness  to  receive  him. 

"Well,  Sarpent," — asked  Deerslayer,  when  the  other 
had  ended  his  narrative,  "  as  you  've  been  scouting  around 
these  Mingos,  have  you  anything  to  tell  us  of  their  captyves ; 
the  father  of  these  young  women  and  another,  who,  I  con 
clude,  is  the  lover  of  one  of  'em  ?  " 

11  Chingachgook  has  seen  them.  An  old  man  and  a 
young  warrior,  — the  falling  hemlock  and  the  tall  pine." 

"You're  not  so  much  out,  Delaware;  you're  not  so 
much  out.  Old  Hutter  is  decaying  of  a  sartainty,  though 
many  solid  blocks  might  be  hewn  out  of  his  trunk  yet ; 


THE  RANSOM  1 1 5 

and,  as  for  Hurry  Harry,  so  far  as  height,  and  strength, 
and  comeliness  go,  he  may  be  called  the  pride  of  the 
human  forest.  Were  the  men  bound,  or  in  any  manner 
suffering  torture  ?  " 

"It  is  not  so,  Deerslayer.  The  Mingos  are  too  many 
to  cage  their  game.  Some  watch,  some  sleep,  some  scout, 
some  hunt.  The  palefaces  are  treated  like  brothers  to-day  ; 
to-morrow  they  will  lose  their  scalps." 

"Yes,  that's  red  natur',  and  must  be  submitted  to! 
Judith  and  Hetty,  here  's  comforting  tidings  for  you,  the 
Delaware  telling  me  that  neither  your  father  nor  Hurry 
Harry  is  in  suffering ;  but,  bating  the  loss  of  liberty,  as 
well  off  as  we  are  ourselves.  Of  course  they  are  kept  in 
the  camp  ;  otherwise  they  do  much  as  they  please." 

"  I  rejoice  to  hear  this,  Deerslayer,"  returned  Judith, 
"  and  now  we  are  joined  by  your  friend,  I  make  no  man 
ner  of  question  that  we  shall  find  an  opportunity  to  ransom 
the  prisoners.  If  there  are  any  women  in  the  camp,  I  have 
articles  of  dress  that  will  catch  their  eyes  ;  and,  should  the 
worst  come  to  the  worst,  we  can  open  the  good  chest,  which, 
I  think,  will  be  found  to. hold  things  that  may  tempt  the 
chiefs." 

"  Would  the  savages  let  father  go,  if  Judith  and  I  gave 
them  all  our  best  things  ?  "  demanded  Hetty,  in  her  inno 
cent,  mild  manner. 

"  Their  women  might  interfere,  good  Hetty  ;  yes,  their 
women  might  interfere  with  such  an  ind  in  view.  But  tell 
me,  Sarpent,  how  it  is  as  to  squaws  among  the  knaves ; 
have  they  many  of  their  own  women  in  the  camp  ?  " 

"  Six,"  replied  the  Indian,  holding  up  all  the  fingers  of 
one  hand,  and  the  thumb  of  the  other  ;  "besides  this"  The 


Il6  THE  DEERSLAYER 

last  number  denoted  his  betrothed  ;  whom,  with  the  poetry 
and  truth  of  nature,  he  described  by  laying  his  hand  on  his 
own  heart. 

"  Did  you  see  her,  chief  —  did  you  get  a  glimpse  of  her 
pleasant  countenance,  or  come  close  enough  to  her  ear  to 
sing  in  it  the  song  she  loves  to  hear  ?  " 

"  No,  Deerslayer,  —  the  trees  were  too  many,  and  leaves 
covered  their  boughs,  like  clouds  hiding  the  heavens  in  a 
storm.  But," —  and  the  young  warrior  turned  his  dark  face 
towards  his  friend,  with  a  smile  on  it  that  illuminated  its 
fierce-looking  paint  and  naturally  stern  lineaments  with  a 
bright  gleam  of  human  feeling,  -  •"  Chingachgook  heard 
the  laugh  of  Wah-ta-Wah  ;  he  knew  it  from  the  laugh  of 
the  women  of  the  Iroquois.  It  sounded  in  his  ears  like  the 
chirp  of  the  wren." 

"  Aye,  trust  a  lovyer's  ear  for  that ;  and  a  Delaware's 
ear  for  all  sounds  that  are  ever  heard  in  the  woods.  I 
know  not  why  it  is  so,  Judith,  but  when  young  men  — • 
and  I  dare  to  say  it  may  be  all  the  same  with  young  women 
too  —  but  when  they  get  to  have  kind  feelin's  towards  each 
other,  it 's  wonderful  how  pleasant  the  laugh  or  the  speech 
becomes  to  the  other  person.  I  've  seen  grim  warriors  lis 
tening  to  the  chattering  .and  the  laughing  of  young  gals  as 
if  it  was  church  music." 

"  Andjj/0«,  Deerslayer,"  said  Judith  quickly  ;  "  havejjw/ 
never  felt  how  pleasant  it  is  to  listen  to  the  laugh  of  the 
girl  you  love  ?  " 

"  Lord  bless  you,  gal !  —  why  I  've  never  lived  enough 
among  my  own  color  to  drop  into  them  sort  of  feelin's,  — 
no,  never !    I  dare  to  say,  they  are  nat'ral  and  right ;  but 
to  me  there  's  no  music  so  sweet  as  the  sighing  of  the,  wind 


THE  RANSOM  117 

in  the  tree-tops,  and  the  rippling  of  a  stream  from  a  full, 
sparkling,  natyve  fountain  of  pure  fresh  water  ;  unless,  in 
deed,"  he  continued,  dropping  his  head  for  an  instant  in 
a  thoughtful  manner,  "  unless,  indeed,  it  be  the  open 
mouth  of  a  sartain  hound,  when  I  'm  on  the  track  of  a  fat 
buck.  No,  Judith,  my  sweetheart  is  in  the  forest,  hanging 
from  the  boughs  of  the  trees,  in  a  soft  rain  —  in  the  dew 
on  the  open  grass  —  the  clouds  that  float  about  in  the  blue 
heavens  —  the  birds  that  sing  in  the  woods  —  the  sweet 
springs  where  I  slake  my  thirst  —  and  in  all  the  other - 
glorious  gifts  that  come  from  God's  providence !  " 

Both  men  now  arose,  the  hour  having  arrived  when  it 
became  prudent  to  move  the  ark  further  from  the  land.  It 
was  quite  dark ;  the  heavens  having  become  clouded  and 
the  stars  hid.  The  north  wind  had  ceased,  as  was  usual, 
with  the  setting  of  the  sun,  and  a  light  air  arose  from  the 
south.  This  change  favoring  the  design  of  Deerslayer,  he 
lifted  his  anchor,  and  the  scow  immediately  and  quite  per 
ceptibly  began  to  drift  more  into  the  lake.  The  sail  was  set, 
when  the  motion  of  the  craft  increased  to  a  rate  not  much 
less  than  two  miles  in  the  hour.  As  this  superseded  the 
necessity  of  rowing,  Deerslayer,  Chingachgook,  and  Judith 
seated  themselves  in  the  stern  of  the  scow,  where  the  first 
governed  its  movements  by  holding  the  oar.  Here  they 
discoursed  on  their  future  movements,  and  on  the  means 
that  ought  to  be  used  in  order  to  effect  the  liberation  of 
their  friends. 

In  this  manner  half  an  hour  passed,  during  which  time 
the  ark  had  been  slowly  stealing  over  the  water,  the  dark 
ness  thickening  around  it;  though  it  was  easy  to  see  that 
the  gloom  of  the  forest  at  the  southern  end  of  the  lake  was 


Il8  THE  DEERSLAYER 

getting  to  be  distant,  while  the  mountains  that  lined  the 
sides  of  the  beautiful  basin  were  overshadowing  it,  nearly 
from  side  to  side.  There  was,  indeed,  a  narrow  stripe  of 
water,  in  the  centre  of  the  lake,  where  the  dim  light  that 
was  still  shed  from  the  heavens  fell  upon  its  surface,  in  a 
line  extending  north  and  south  ;  and  along  this  faint  tract 
—  a  sort  of  inverted  milky-way,  in  which  the  obscurity  was 
not  quite  as  dense  as  in  other  places  —  the  scow  held  her 
course,  he  who  steered  well  knowing  that  it  led  in  the  di 
rection  he  wished  to  go.  The  peculiarities  at  length  caught 
the  attention  of  Judith  and  the  Deerslayer,  and  the  conver 
sation  ceased,  to  allow  each  to  gaze  at  the  solemn  stillness 
and  deep  repose  of  nature. 

1  'T  is  a  gloomy  night,"  observed  the  girl,  after  a  pause 
of  several  minutes.  "  I  hope  we  may  be  able  to  find  the 
castle." 

11  Little  fear  of  our  missing  that,  if  we  keep  this  path, 
in  the  middle  of  the  lake,"  returned  the  young  man. 
"  Natur'  has  made  us  a  road  here,  and,  dim  as  it  is, 
there  '11  be  little  difficulty  in  following  it." 

"  Do  you  hear  nothing,  Deerslayer  ?  It  seemed  as  if 
the  water  was  stirring  quite  near  us !  " 

"  Sartainly  something  did  move  the  water,  oncommon 
like  ;  it  must  have  been  a  fish.  Ha !  that  sounds  like  a 
paddle,  used  with  more  than  common  caution  !  " 

At  this  moment  the  Delaware  bent  forward  and  pointed 
significantly  into  the  boundary  of  gloom,  as  if  some  object 
had  suddenly  caught  his  eye.  Both  Deerslayer  and  Judith 
followed  the  direction  of  his  gesture,  and  each  got  a  view 
of  a  canoe  at  the  same  instant.  The  glimpse  of  this  star 
tling  neighbor  was  dim,  and,  to  eyes  less  practiced,  it  might 


THE  RANSOM  119 

have  been  uncertain  ;  though  to  those  in  the  ark  the  object 
was  evidently  a  canoe,  with  a  single  individual  in  it ;  the 
latter  standing  erect  and  paddling.  How  many  lay  con 
cealed  in  its  bottom,  of  course  could  not  be  known.  Flight, 
by  means  of  oars,  from  a  bark  canoe  impelled  by  vigorous 
and  skillful  hands,  was  utterly  impracticable,  and  each  of 
the  men  seized  his  rifle  in  expectation  of  a  conflict. 

"  I  can  easily  bring  down  the  paddler,"  whispered  Deer- 
slayer,  "  but  we  '11  first  hail  him  and  ask  his  arr'nd." 
Then  raising  his  voice,  he  continued  in  a  solemn  manner, 
"  Hold  !  If  you  come  nearer  I  must  fire,  though  contrary 
to  my  wishes,  and  then  sartain  death  will  follow.  Stop 
paddling,  and  answer  !  " 

"  Fire,  and  slay  a  poor  defenseless  girl,"  returned  a  soft, 
tremulous  female  voice,  "  and  God  will  never  forgive  you  ! 
Go  your  way,  Deerslayer,  and  let  me  go  mine." 

"  Hetty!  "  exclaimed  the  young  man  and  Judith  in  a 
breath  ;  and  the  former  sprang  instantly  to  the  spot  where 
he  had  left  the  canoe  they  had  been  towing.  It  was  gone, 
and  he  understood  the  whole  affair.  As  for  the  fugitive, 
frightened  at  the  menace,  she  ceased  paddling,  and  re 
mained  dimly  visible,  resembling  a  spectral  outline  of  a 
human  form  standing  on  the  water. 

"  What  can  this  mean,  Judith  ?  "  demanded  Deerslayer. 
"  Why  has  your  sister  taken  the  canoe,  and  left  us  ?  " 

"  You  know  she  is  feeble-minded,  poor  girl !  and  she 
has  her  own  ideas  of  what  ought  to  be  done.    She  loves 
her  father  more  than  most  children  love  their  parents  — 
and  then  "- 

"  Then  what,  girl  ?  This  is  a  trying  moment ;  one  in 
which  truth  must  be  spoken !  " 


120  THE  DEERSLAYER 

Judith  felt  a  generous  and  womanly  regret  at  betraying 
her  sister,  and  she  hesitated  ere  she  spoke  again.  But 
once  more  urged  by  Deerslayer,  and  conscious  herself  of 
all  the  risks  the  whole  party  was  running  by  the  indis 
cretion  of  Hetty,  she  could  refrain  no  longer. 

"  Then  I  fear  poor,  weak-minded  Hetty  has  not  been 
altogether  able  to  see  the  vanity,  and  madness,  and  folly 
that  lie  hid  behind  the  handsome  face  and  fine  form  of 
Hurry  Harry.  She  talks  of  him  in  her  sleep,  and  some 
times  betrays  the  inclination  in  her  waking  moments." 

11  You  think,  Judith,  that  your  sister  is  now  bent  on  some 
mad  scheme  to  serve  her  father  and  Hurry,  which  will,  in 
all  likelihood,  give  them  riptyles,  the  Mingos,  the  master 
ship  of  a  canoe  ?  " 

"  Such,  I  fear,  will  turn  out  to  be  the  fact,  Deerslayer. 
Poor  Hetty  has  hardly  sufficient  cunning  to  outwit  a 
savage." 

All  this  while  the  canoe,  with  the  form  of  Hetty  erect 
in  one  end  of  it,  was  dimly  perceptible  ;  though  the  greater 
drift  of  the  ark  rendered  it  at  each  instant  less  and  less 
distinct.  It  was  evident  no  time  was  to  be  lost,  lest  it 
should  altogether  disappear.  The  rifles  were  now  laid 
aside  as  useless  ;  the  two  men  seizing  the  oars,  and  sweep 
ing  the  head  of  the  scow  round  in  the  direction  of  the  canoe. 
Judith,  accustomed  to  the  office,  flew  to  the  other  end  of 
the  ark  and  placed  herself  at  what  might  be  called  the 
helm.  Hetty  took  the  alarm  at  these  preparations,  which 
could  not  be  made  without  noise,  and  started  off  like  a 
bird  that  had  been  suddenly  put  up  by  the  approach  of 
unexpected  danger. 


THE  RANSOM  121 

As  Deerslayer  and  his  companion  rowed  with  the  energy 
of  those  who  felt  the  necessity  of  straining  every  nerve,  and 
Hetty's  strength  was  impaired  by  a  nervous  desire  to  es 
cape,  the  chase  would  have  quickly  terminated  in  the 
capture  of  the  fugitive  had  not  the  girl  made  several 
short  and  unlooked-for  deviations  in  her  course.  These 
turnings  gave  her  time,  and  they  had  also  the  effect  of 
gradually  bringing  both  canoe  and  ark  within  the  deeper 
gloom  cast  by  the  shadows  from  the  hills.  They  also 
gradually  increased  the  distance  between  the  fugitive  and 
her  pursuers,  until  Judith  called  out  to  her  companions 
to  cease  rowing,  for  she  had  completely  lost  sight  of 
the  canoe. 

When  this  mortifying  announcement  was  made,  Hetty 
was  actually  so  near  as  to  understand  every  syllable  her 
sister  uttered ;  though  the  latter  had  used  the  precaution 
of  speaking  as  low  as  circumstances  would  allow  her  to  do, 
and  make  herself  heard.  Hetty  stopped  paddling  at  the 
same  moment,  and  waited  the  result  with  an  impatience 
that  was  breathless,  equally  from  her  late  exertions  and 
her  desire  to  land.  A  dead  silence  immediately  fell  on 
the  lake ;  during  which  the  three  in  the  ark  were  using 
their  senses  differently  in  order  to  detect  the  position  of 
the  canoe.  Judith  leant  forward  to  listen,  in  the  hope  of 
catching  some  sound  that  might  betray  the  direction  in 
which  her  sister  was  stealing  away ;  while  her  two  com 
panions  brought  their  eyes  as  near  as  possible  to  a  level 
with  the  water,  in  order  to  detect  any  object  that  might 
be  floating  on  its  surface.  All  was  vain,  however,  for 
neither  sound  nor  sight  rewarded  their  efforts.  All  this 


122  THE  DEERSLAYER 

time  Hetty,  who  had  not  the  cunning  to  sink  into  the 
canoe,  stood  erect,  a  finger  pressed  on  her  lips,  gazing  in 
the  direction  in  which  the  voices  had  been  heard,  resem 
bling  a  statue  of  profound  and  timid  attention.  Her  inge 
nuity  had  barely  sufficed  to  enable  her  to  seize  the  canoe 
and  to  quit  the  ark  in  the  noiseless  manner  related  ;  and 
then  it  appeared  to  be  momentarily  exhausted.  Even  the 
doubling  of  the  canoe  had  been  as  much  the  consequence 
of  an  uncertain  hand,  and  of  nervous  agitation,  as  of  any 
craftiness  or  calculation. 

The  pause  continued  several  minutes,  during  which 
Deerslayer  and  the  Delaware  conferred  together  in  the  lan 
guage  of  the  latter.  Then  the  oars  dipped  again,  and  the 
ark  moved  away,  rowing  with  as  little  noise  as  possible. 
It  steered  westward,  a  little  southerly,  or  in  the  direction 
of  the  encampment  of  the  enemy.  Having  reached  a  point 
at  no  great  distance  from  the  shore,  and  where  the  obscu 
rity  was  intense  on  account  of  the  proximity  of  the  land, 
it  lay  there  near  an  hour,  in  waiting  for  the  expected  ap 
proach  of  Hetty,  who,  it  was  thought,  would  make  the 
best  of  her  way  to  that  spot  as  soon  as  she  believed  her 
self  relieved  from  the  danger  of  pursuit.  No  success  re 
warded  this  little  blockade,  however ;  neither  appearance 
nor  sound  denoting  the  passage  of  the  canoe.  Disap 
pointed  at  this  failure,  and  conscious  of  the  importance 
of  getting  possession  of  the  fortress  before  it  could  be 
seized  by  the  enemy,  Deerslayer  now  took  his  way  towards 
the  castle,  with  the  apprehension  that  all  his  foresight  in 
securing  the  canoes  would  be  defeated  by  this  unguarded 
and  alarming  movement  on  the  part  of  the  feeble-minded 
Hetty. 


THE  RANSOM  12^ 

<J 

CHAPTER  III 

Fear,  as  much  as  calculation,  had  induced  Hetty  to  cease 
paddling,  when  she  found  that  her  pursuers  did  not  know 
in  which  direction  to  proceed.  She  remained  stationary, 
until  the  ark  had  pulled  in  near  the  encampment,  when 
she  resumed  the  paddle,  and  with  cautious  strokes  made 
the  best  of  her  way  towards  the  western  shore.  Yet  feeble 
minded  as  she  was,  she  had  worked  out,  partly  through 
instinctive  caution,  and  partly  through  long  familiarity 
with  the  lake,  a  plan  that  would  have  done  credit  to  a 
wiser  brain.  She  was  perfectly  aware  of  the  importance 
of  keeping  the  canoes  from  falling  into  the  hands  of  the 
Iroquois,  and  had  hit  upon  the  expedient  of  landing  at  a 
long  gravelly  point  which  thrust  itself  into  the  lake,  about 
a  league  below  the  outlet.  From  this  point  a  canoe,  if  set 
adrift  with  a  southerly  air,  would  float  clear  of  the  land, 
and  drift  towards  the  castle,  or  at  any  rate  towards  the 
northern  end  of  the  lake  where  Deerslayer  could  see  it 
from  the  castle. 

The  girl  was  quite  an  hour  finding  her  way  to  the  point ; 
but  she  was  no  sooner  on  the  gravelly  beach  than  she 
prepared  to  set  the  canoe  adrift.  While  in  the  act  of  push 
ing  it  from  her,  she  heard  low  voices  that  seemed  to  come 
from  among  the  trees  behind  her.  Startled  at  this  unex 
pected  danger,  Hetty  was  on  the  point  of  springing  into 
the  canoe  again,  in  order  to  seek  safety  in  flight,  when  she 
thought  she  recognized  the  tones  of  Judith's  melodious 
voice.  Bending  forward  so  as  to  catch  the  sounds  more 
directly,  they  evidently  came  from  the  water  ;  and  then  she 
understood  that  the  ark  was  approaching,  and  so  close 


124  THE  DEERSLAYER 

to  the  western  shore  as  necessarily  to  cause  it  to  pass  the 
point  within  twenty  yards  of  the  spot  where  she  stood.  Here, 
then,  was  all  she  could  desire  ;  the  canoe  was  shoved  off  into 
the  lake,  leaving  its  late  occupant  alone  on  the  narrow  strand. 

When  this  act  of  self-devotion  was  performed,  Hetty 
did  not  retire.  Flight  at  any  moment  was  perfectly  easy, 
as  twenty  steps  would  bury  her  in  the  forest.  But  in  the 
darkness  it  was  impossible  to  see  anything  at  a  distance 
of  a  few  feet.  She  remained,  therefore,  watching  with 
intense  anxiety  the  result  of  her  expedient,  intending  to 
call  the  attention  of  the  others  to  the  canoe  with  her  voice, 
should  they  appear  to  pass  without  observing  it.  The  ark 
approached  under  its  sail  again  on  its  way  to  the  castle,  as 
its  occupants  had  given  up  hope  of  finding  Hetty.  Deer- 
slayer  was  standing  in  its  bow,  with  Judith  near  him,  and 
the  Delaware  at  the  helm. 

It  was  Deerslayer  who  first  saw  the  empty  canoe. 

"  Judith,  there  's  a  canoe  !  "  he  whispered. 

"  It  must  be  that  in  which  Hetty  fled,"  she  replied. 
"  She  must  have  landed  and  set  it  adrift." 

"  Keep  the  scow  straight,  Delaware,"  commanded 
Deerslayer;  "steer  as  straight  as  your  bullet  flies  when 
sent  agin  a  buck  ;  there,  —  I  have  it." 

The  canoe  was  seized,  and  immediately  secured  again 
to  the  side  of  the  ark.  At  the  next  moment  the  sail  was 
lowered,  and  the  motion  of  the  ark  arrested,  by  means  of 
the  oars. 

"  Hetty !  "  called  out  Judith,  concern  and  affection  be 
traying  itself  in  her  tones  ;  "  are  you  within  hearing,  sister? 
—  for  God's  sake  answer,  and  let  me  hear  the  sound  of 
your  voice  again  !  Hetty  !  —  dear  Hetty  !  " 


THE  RANSOM  125 

"  I  'm  here,  Judith  —  here  on  the  shore,  where  it  will 
be  useless  to  follow  me,  as  I  will  hide  in  the  woods." 

"  Oh  !  Hetty,  what  is  't  you  do  !  Remember  't  is  draw 
ing  near  midnight,  and  that  the  woods  are  filled  with 
savages  and  wild  beasts  !  " 

"  Neither  will  harm  a  poor  half-witted  girl,  Judith.  God 
is  as  much  with  me  here  as  He  would  be  in  the  ark,  or  in 
the  hut.  I  am  going  to  help  my  father  and  Hurry  Harry, 
who  will  be  tortured  and  slain,  unless  some  one  cares  for 
them." 

"  We  all  care  for  them,  and  intend  to-morrow  to  send 
them  a  flag  of  truce  to  buy  their  ransom.  Come  back  then, 
sister;  trust  to  us,  who  have  better  heads  than  you,  and 
who  will  do  all  we  can  for  father." 

"  I  know  your  head  is  better  than  mine,  Judith,  for  mine 
is  very  weak,  to  be  sure ;  but  I  must  go  to  father  and 
Hurry.  Do  you  and  Deerslayer  keep  the  castle,  sister ; 
leave  me  in  the  hands  of  God." 

"God  is  with  us  all,  Hetty  —  in  the  castle,  or  on  the 
shore  —  father  as  well  as  ourselves  ;  and  it  is  sinful  not  to 
trust  to  His  goodness.  You  can  do  nothing  in  the  dark  ; 
will  lose  your  way  in  the  forest,  and  perish  for  want  of 
food." 

"  God  will  not  let  that  happen  to  a  poor  child  that  goes 
to  serve  her  father,  sister.  I  must  try  and  find  the  savages." 

"  Come  back,  for  this  night  only;  in  the  morning  we 
will  put  you  ashore,  and  leave  you  to  do  as  you  may  think 
right." 

"  You  say  so,  Judith,  and  you  think  so  ;  but  you  would 
not.  Your  heart  would  soften,  and  you  'd  see  tomahawks 
and  scalping-knives  in  the  air.  Besides,  I  Ve  got  a  thing 


126  THE  DEERSLAYER 

to  tell  the  Indian  chief  that  will  answer  all  our  wishes  ; 
and  I  'm  afraid  I  may  forget  it  if  I  don't  tell  it  to  him  at 
once.  You  '11  see  that  he  will  let  father  go  as  soon  as  he 
hears  it !  " 

"  Poor  Hetty  !  What  can.  you  say  to  a  ferocious  savage, 
that  will  be  likely  to  change  his  bloody  purpose !  " 

"  That  which  will  frighten  him,  and  make  him  let  father 
go,"  returned  the  simple-minded  girl,  positively.  "You'll 
see,  sister ;  you  '11  see  how  soon  it  will  bring  him  to,  like 
a  gentle  child  !  " 

"  Will  you  tell  me,  Hetty,  what  you  intend  to  say  ?  " 
asked  Deerslayer  ;  "I  know  the  savages  well,  and  can  form 
some  idee  how  far  fair  words  will  be  likely,  or  not,  to  work 
on  their  bloody  natur's." 

"  Well,  then,"  answered  Hetty,  dropping  her  voice  to 
a  low,  confidential  tone  ;  for  the  stillness  of  the  night  and 
the  nearness  of  the  ark  permitted  her  to  do  this,  and  still 
to  be  heard,—  "well,  then,  Deerslayer,  as  you  seem  a 
good  and  honest  young  man,  I  will  tell  you.  I  mean  not 
to  say  a  word  to  any  of  the  savages  until  I  get  face  to  face 
with  their  head  chief,  let  them  plague  me  with  as  many 
questions  as  they  please  ;  no  — -I  '11  answer  none  of  them, 
unless  it  be  to  tell  them  to  lead  me  to  their  wisest  man. 
Then,  Deerslayer,  I  '11  tell  him  that  God  will  not  forgive 
murder  and  thefts ;  and  that  if  father  and  Hurry  did  go 
after  the  scalps  of  the  Iroquois,  he  must  return  good  for 
evil,  for  so  the  Bible  commands,  else  he  will  go  into  ever 
lasting  punishment.  When  he  hears  this,  and  feels  it  to 
be  true,  as  feel  it  he  must,  how  long  will  it  be  before  he 
sends  father  and  Hurry  and  me  to  the  shore,  opposite  the 
castle,  telling  us  all  three  to  go  our  way  in  peace  ?  " 


THE  RANSOM  127 

The  last  question  was  put  in  a  triumphant  manner  ;  and 
then  the  simple  minded  girl  laughed  at  the  impression  she 
never  doubted  that  her  project  had  made  on  her  auditors. 
Deerslayer  was  dumfounded  at  this  proof  of  guileless  fee 
bleness  of  mind.  For  a  moment  all  were  silent  with  sur 
prise.  Then  Judith  called  her  sister  by  name  once  more. 
But  no  answer  was  given  to  the  call. 

By  the  snapping  of  twigs,  and  the  rustling  of  leaves, 
Hetty  had  evidently  quitted  the  shore,  and  was  already 
burying  herself  in  the  forest.  To  follow  would  have  been 
useless.  After  a  short  and  melancholy  discussion,  the  sail 
was  again  set,  and  the  party  reached  the  castle  in  less  than 
an  hour.  Here  all  was  found  as  it  had  been  left.  Judith 
occupied  a  solitary  bed  that  night,  bedewing  the  pillow 
with  her  tears,  as  she  thought  with  many  bitter  regrets  of 
the  innocent  girl  who  had  been  her  companion  from  child 
hood,  but  who  was  now  wandering  alone  in  the  forest. 

CHAPTER  IV 

When  Hetty  left  the  shore,  she  took  her  way  unhesita 
tingly  into  the  woods  with  a  nervous  apprehension  of 
being  followed.  Luckily,  this  course  was  the  best  she 
could  have  hit  on,  since  it  was  the  only  one  that  led  her 
from  the  point.  The  night  was  so  intensely  dark,  beneath 
the  branches  of  the  trees,  that  her  progress  was  very  slow, 
and  the  direction  she  went  altogether  a  matter  of  chance, 
after  the  first  few  yards.  The  formation  of  the  ground, 
however,  did  not  permit  her  to  deviate  far  from  the  line 
in  which  she  desired  to  proceed.  On  one  hand,  it  was 
soon  bounded  by  the  acclivity  of  the  hill ;  while  the  lake 


128  THE  DEERSLAYER 

on  the  other  served  as  a  guide.  For  two  hours  did  this 
single-hearted  and  simple-minded  girl  toil  through  the 
mazes  of  the  forest ;  sometimes  finding  herself  on  the 
brow  of  the  bank  that  bounded  the  water,  and  at  others 
struggling  up  an  ascent  that  warned  her  to  go  no  further 
in  that  direction,  since  it  necessarily  ran  at  right  angles  to 
the  course  on  which  she  wished  to  proceed.  Her  feet  often 
slid  from  beneath  her,  and  she  got  many  falls,  though 
none  to  do  her  injury  ;  but,  by  the  end  of  the  period  men 
tioned,  she  had  become  so  weary  as  to  want  strength  to 
go  any  further.  Rest  was  indispensable  ;  and  she  set  about 
preparing  a  bed,  with  the  readiness  and  coolness  of  one  to 
whom  the  wilderness  presented  no  unnecessary  terrors, 
because  of  its  familiarity  and  the  freedom  from  appre 
hension  which  went  with  her  simplicity. 

As  soon  as  Hetty  had  collected  a  sufficient  number  of 
the  dried  leaves  to  protect  her  person  from  the  damps  of 
the  ground,  she  kneeled  beside  the  humble  pile,  clasped 
her  raised  liands  in  an  attitude  of  deep  devotion,  and 
in  a  soft,  low,  but  audible  voice,  repeated  the  Lord's 
prayer. 

This  duty  done,  she  wrapped  about  her  a  heavy,  coarse 
mantle,  lay  down,  and  disposed  herself  to  sleep.  In  a  few 
moments  she  dropped  asleep,  and  lay  hour  after  hour  in 
a  tranquillity  as  undisturbed  and  a  rest  as  sweet  as  if 
watched  over  by  the  guardian  care  of  that  mother  who  had 
so  recently  been  taken  from  her.  Not  once  did  her  soft 
eyes  open,  until  the  gray  of  the  dawn  came  struggling 
through  the  tops  of  the  trees,  falling  on  their  lids,  and, 
united  to  the  freshness  of  a  summer's  morning,  giving  the 
usual  summons  to  awake.  The  girl  murmured  in  her  sleep, 


THE  RANSOM  129 

threw  an  arm  forward,  smiled  as  gently  as  an  infant  in  its 
cradle,  but  still  slumbered.  In  making  this  unconscious 
gesture,  her  hand  fell  on  some  object  that  was  warm,  and, 
in  the  half-unconscious  state  in  which  she  lay,  she  con 
nected  the  circumstance  with  her  habits.  At  the  next 
moment,  a  rude  attack  was  made  on  her  side,  as  if  a  root 
ing  animal  were  thrusting  its  snout  beneath,  with  a  desire 
to  force  her  position  ;  and  then,  uttering  the  name  of 
"Judith,"  she  awoke.  As  the  startled  girl  arose  to  a  sit 
ting  attitude,  she  perceived  that  some  dark  object  sprang 
from  her,  scattering  the  leaves  and  snapping  the  fallen 
twigs  in  its  haste.  Opening  her  eyes,  and  recovering  from 
the  first  confusion  and  astonishment  of  her  situation, 
Hetty  perceived  a  cub  of  the  common  brown  bear,  balanc 
ing  itself  on  its  hinder  legs  and  still  looking  towards  her, 
as  if  doubtful  whether  it  would  be  safe  to  trust  itself  near 
her  person  again.  The  first  impulse  of  Hetty,  who  had 
been  mistress  of  several  of  these  cubs,  was  to  run  and  seize 
the  little  creature  as  a  prize,  but  a  loud  growl  "warned  her 
of  the  danger  of  such  a  procedure.  Recoiling  a  few 
steps,  the  girl  looked  hurriedly  round,  and  perceived  the 
dam  with  two  more  cubs  watching  her  movements,  with 
fiery  eyes,  at  no  great  distance.  Much  as  she  longed  to 
catch  the  little  animal  up  in  her  arms  and  play  with  it,  she 
had  self-command  enough  to  refrain  ;  and  recollecting  her 
errand,  she  tore  herself  away  from  the  group  and,  after 
kneeling  and  offering  a  short  prayer,  proceeded  on  her 
course  along  the  margin  of  the  lake,  of  which  she  now 
caught  glimpses  again  through  the  trees.  To  her  surprise, 
though  not  to  her  alarm,  the  family  of  bears  arose  and 
followed  her  steps,  keeping  a  short  distance  behind  her, 


130  THE  DEERSLAYER 

apparently  watching  every  movement  as  if  they  had  a  near 
interest  in  all  she  did. 

In  this  manner,  escorted  by  the  dam  and  cubs,  the  girl 
proceeded  nearly  a  mile,  thrice  the  distance  she  had  been 
able  to  achieve  in  the  darkness  during  the  same  period  of 
time.  She  then  reached  a  brook  that  had  dug  a  channel 
for  itself  into  the  earth,  and  went  brawling  into  the  lake, 
between  steep  and  high  banks,  covered  with  trees.  Here 
Hetty  performed  her  ablutions  ;  then  drinking  of  the  pure 
mountain  water,  she  went  her  way,  refreshed  and  lighter 
of  heart,  still  attended  by  her  singular  companions.  Her 
course  now  lay  along  a  broad  and  nearly  level  terrace, 
which  stretched  from  the  top  of  the  bank  that  bounded 
the  water,  and  Hetty  knew  by  this  circumstance  that  she 
was  getting  near  to  the  encampment ;  had  she  not,  the 
bears  would  have  given  her  warning  of  the  vicinity  of 
human  beings.  Snuffing  the  air,  the  dam  refused  to  follow 
any  further,  though  the  girl  looked  back  and  invited  her 
to  come  by  signs,  and  even  by  direct  appeals  made  in  her 
own  sweet  voice.  It  was  while  making  her  way  slowly 
through  some  bushes,  in  this  manner,  with  averted  face 
and  eyes  riveted  on  the  immovable  animals,  that  the  girl 
suddenly  found  her  steps  arrested  by  a  human  hand,  that 
was  laid  lightly  on  her  shoulder. 

"  Where  go?"  said  a  soft  female  voice,  speaking  hur 
riedly,  and  in  concern. '  "  Indian  —  red-man  —  savage  — 
wicked  warrior  —  that-a-way . ' ' 

This  unexpected  salutation  alarmed  the  girl  no  more 
than  the  presence  of  the  fierce  inhabitants  of  the  woods. 
It  took  her  a  little  by  surprise,  it  is  true,  but  the  Indian 
woman  who  had  stopped  her  was  little  likely  to  excite 


THE  RANSOM  131 

terror.  It  was  a  girl  not  much  older  than  herself,  whose 
smile  was  sunny  as  Judith's  in  her  brightest  moments, 
and  whose  voice  was  melody  itself.  She  was  dressed  in  a 
calico  mantle,  that  effectually  protected  all  the  upper  part 
of  her  person,  while  a  short  petticoat  of  blue  cloth  edged 
with  gold  lace,  that  fell  no  lower  than  her  knees,  leggings 
of  the  same,  and  moccasins  of  deerskin,  completed  her 
attire.  Her  hair  fell  in  long  dark  braids  down  her  shoulders 
and  back,  and  was  parted  above  a  low  smooth  forehead,  in 
a  way  to  soften  the  expression  of  eyes  that  were  full  of 
archness  and  natural  feeling.  Her  face  was  oval,  with  deli 
cate  features ;  the  teeth  were  even  and  white ;  while  her 
voice,  as  has  been  already  intimated,  was  soft  as  the  sigh 
ing  of  the  night  air,  a  characteristic  of  the  females  of  her 
race,  but  which  was  so  conspicuous  in  herself  as  to  have 
procured  for  her  the  name  of  Wah-ta-Wah. 

In  a  word,  this  was  the  betrothed  of  Chingachgook ; 
who,  having  succeeded  in  lulling  their  suspicions,  was  per 
mitted  to  wander  around  the  encampment  of  her  captors. 
This  indulgence  was  in  accordance  with  the  general  policy 
of  the  red-man,  who  well  knew,  moreover,  that  her  trail 
could  have  been  followed,  in  the  event  of  flight.  It  will 
also  be  remembered  that  the  Iroquois,  or  Hurons,  as  it 
would  be  better  to  call  them,  were  entirely  ignorant  of  the 
proximity  of  her  lover ;  a  fact,  indeed,  that  she  did  not 
know  herself. 

"Where  go?"  repeated  Wah-ta-Wah,  returning  the 
smile  of  Hetty,  in  her  own  gentle,  winning  manner ; 
"  wicked  warrior  that-a-way — good  warrior  far  off." 

11  What 's  your  name  ?  "  asked  Hetty,  with  the  simplic 
ity  of  a  child. 


132  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  Wah-ta-Wah,  that  say  Hist-oh-Hist  in  your  tongue. 
I  no  Mingo  —  good  Delaware  —  Yengeese  friend.  Mingo 
cruel,  and  love  scalp  for  blood  —  Delaware  love  him  for 
honor.  Come  here,  where  no  eyes." 

Wah-ta-Wah  now  led  her  companion  towards  the  lake, 
descending  the  bank  so  as  to  place  its  overhanging  trees 
and  bushes  between  them  and  any  probable  observers  ;  nor 
did  she  stop  until  they  were  both  seated,  side  by  side,  on  a 
fallen  log,  one  end  of  which  actually  lay  buried  in  the  water. 

"\Why  you  come  for?"  the  young  Indian  eagerly  in 
quired  ;  "  where  you  come  from  ?  " 

Hetty  told  her  tale  in  her  own  simple  and  truth-loving 
manner.  She  explained  the  situation  of  her  father,  and 
stated  her  desire  to  serve  him,  and,  if  possible,  to  procure 
his  release. 

"  Why  your  father  come  to  Mingo  camp  in  night  ?  " 
asked  the  Indian  girl,  with  a  directness,  which,  if  not  bor 
rowed  from  the  other,  partook  largely  of  its  sincerity. 
"He  know  it  war-time,  and  he  no  boy  —  he  no  want  beard 
—  no  want  to  be  told  Iroquois  carry  tomahawk,  and  knife, 
and  rifle.  Why  he  come  night  time,  seize  me  by  hair,  and 
try  to  scalp  Delaware  girl  ?  " 

"  You  !  "  said  Hetty,  almost  sickening  with  horror  ;  did 
he  seize  yo^l  —  did  he  try  to  scalp  you  ?  " 

"  Why  no  ?  Delaware  scalp  sell  for  much  as  Mingo 
scalp.  Governor  no  tell  difference.  Wicked  t'ing  for 
paleface  to  scalp.  No  his  gifts,  as  the  good  Deerslayer 
alway  tell  me." 

"  And  do  you  know  the  Deerslayer?  "  said  Hetty,  col 
oring  with  delight  and  surprise,  forgetting  her  regrets  at 
the  moment,  in  the  influence  of  this  new  feeling.  "  I  know 


THE  RANSOM  133 

him,  too.  He  is  now  in  the  ark,  with  Judith,  and  a  Dela 
ware  who  is  called  the  Big  Serpent.  A  bold  and  handsome 
warrior  is  this  Serpent,  too  !  " 

Spite  of  the  rich  deep  color  that  nature  had  bestowed 
on  the  Indian  beauty,  the  tell-tale  blood  deepened  on  her 
cheeks,  until  the  blush  gave  new  animation  and  intelli 
gence  to  her  jet-black  eyes.  Raising  a  finger  in  an  attitude 
of  warning,  she  dropped  her  voice,  already  so  soft  and 
sweet,  nearly  to  a  whisper,  as  she  continued  the  discourse. 

"  Chingachgook !  "  returned  the  Delaware  girl,  sighing 
out  the  harsh  name,  in  sounds  so  softly  guttural  as  to 
cause  it  to  reach  the  ear  in  melody.  "His  father,  Uncas 
—  great  chief  of  the  Mohicans  —  next  to  old  Tamenund  ! 
More  as  warrior,  not  so  much  gray  hair,  and  less  at  coun 
cil-fire.  You  know  Serpent  ?  " 

"  He  joined  us  last  evening,  and  was  in  the  ark  with 
me  for  two  or  three  hours  before  I  left  it.  I  'm  afraid  he 
has  come  after  scalps  as  well  as  my  poor  father  and  Hurry 
Harry  !  " 

"  Why  he  should  n't,  ha  ?  Chingachgook  red  warrior, 
very  red  —  scalp  make  his  honor  —  be  sure  he  take  him." 

"Then,"  said  Hetty,  earnestly,  "he  will  be  as  wicked 
as  any  other.  God  will  not  pardon  in  a  red  man  what  he 
will  not  pardon  in  a  white  man." 

"  No  true,"  returned  the  Delaware  girl,  with  a  warmth 
that  nearly  amounted  to  passion,—  "no  true,  I  tell  you! 
The  Manitou  smile  and  please  when  he  see  young  warrior 
come  back  from  the  warpath,  with  two,  ten,  hundred  scalp 
on  a  pole  !  Chingachgook  father  take  scalp,  grandfather 
take  scalp  —  all  old  chief  take  scalp  ;  and  Chingachgook 
take  as  many  scalp  as  he  can  carry,  himself !  " 


134  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  Then,  Hist,  his  sleep  of  nights  must  be  terrible  to 
think  of !  No  one  can  be  cruel  and  hope  to  be  forgiven." 

"No  cruel  —  plenty  forgiven,"  returned  Wah-ta-Wah, 
stamping  her  little  foot  on  the  stony  strand,  and  shaking 
her  head  in  a  way  to  show  how  completely  feminine  feel 
ing,  in  one  of  its  aspects,  had  got  the  better  of  feminine 
feeling  in  another.  "  I  tell  you,  Serpent  brave  ;  he  go 
home  this  time  with  four,  yes,  two  scalp." 

"  And  is  that  his  errand  here  ?  Did  he  really  come  all 
this  distance,  across  mountains  and  valleys,  rivers  and  lakes, 
to  torment  his  fellow-creatures,  and  do  so  wicked  a  thing  ?  " 

This  question  at  once  appeased  the  growing  ire  of  the 
half -off  ended  Indian  beauty.  At  first  she  looked  around 
her  suspiciously,  as  if  distrusting  eavesdroppers  ;  then  she 
gazed  wistfully  into  the  face  of  her  attentive  companion, 
whose  simplicity  and  guilelessness  made  her  countenance 
rarely  winning.  Then  yielding  to  an  impulse  of  tenderness 
she  threw  her  arms  around  Hetty,  and  embraced  her  with 
an  outpouring  emotion  so  natural  that  it  was  only  equaled 
by  its  warmth. 

"You  good,"  whispered  the  young  Indian  ;   "  you  good, 
I  know  ;  it 's  so  long  since  Wah-ta-Wah  have  a  friend  — 
a  sister  —  anybody  to  speak  her  heart  to  !  You  Hist  friend  : 
don't  I  say  trut'  ?  " 

11 1  never  had  a  friend,"  answered  Hetty,  returning  the 
warm  embrace  with  unfeigned  earnestness  ;  "I  've  a  sister, 
but  no  friend.  Judith  loves  me,  and  I  love  Judith  ;  but 
that 's  natural,  and  as  we  are  taught  in  the  Bible ;  but  I 
should  like  to  have  a  friend  !  I  '11  be  your  friend,  with  all 
my  heart ;  for  I  like  your  voice,  and  your  smile,  and  your 
way  of  thinking  in  everything  except  about  the  scalps"- 


THE  RANSOM  135 

"No  t'ink  more  of  him  —  no  say  more  of  scalp,"  in 
terrupted  Hist,  soothingly;  "you  paleface,  I  redskin; 
we  bring  up  different  fashion.  Deerslayer  and  Chingach- 
gook  great  friend,  and  no  the  same  color.  My  name  Wah- 
ta-Wah  I  told  you  ;  what  your  name,  pretty  paleface  ?  " 

"  I  am  called  Hetty,  though  Judith  says  my  real  name  is 
Esther.  I  don't  understand  why  Esther  and  Hetty  are 
the  same,  but  Judith  says  it 's  in  the  Bible  so  ;  and  I  'm  not 
full-witted,  so  I  don't  expect  to  understand  everything." 

Hist  gazed  at  the  gentle,  simple  girl  for  quite  a  minute, 
without  speaking ;  when  the  truth  appeared  to  flash  all  at 
once  on  the  mind  of  the  young  Indian  maid.  Pity,  rever 
ence,  and  tenderness  seemed  struggling  together  in  her 
breast ;  then,  rising  suddenly,  she  indicated  a  wish  to  her 
companion  that  she  would  accompany  her  to  the  camp, 
which  was  situated  at  no  great  distance.  This  unexpected 
change,  from  the  precaution  that  Hist  had  previously  man 
ifested  a  desire  to  use  in  order  to  prevent  being  seen,  to 
an  open  exposure  of  the  person  of  her  friend,  arose  from 
the  perfect  conviction  that  no  Indian  would  harm  a  being 
whom  the  Great  Spirit  had  disarmed,  by  depriving  it  of 
its  strongest  defense,  reason. 

Hetty  accompanied  her  new  friend  without  apprehen 
sion  or  reluctance.  It  was  her  wish  to  reach  the  camp ; 
and,  sustained  by  her  motives,  she  felt  no  more  concern  for 
the  consequences  than  did  her  companion  herself,  now  the 
latter  was  apprised  of  the  character  of  the  protection  that 
the  paleface  maiden  carried  with  her.  Still,  as  they  proceeded 
slowly  along  a  shore  that  was  tangled  with  overhanging 
bushes,  Hist  endeavored  to  caution  her  new-found  friend, 
who  she  now  feared  would  in  her  simplicity  relate  too  much. 


136  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  Hist  prisoner,  and  Mingo  got  big  ear.  No  speak  of 
Chingachgook  when  they  by.  Promise  Hist  that,  good 
Hetty." 

"I  know  —  I  know,"  returned  Hetty,  half-whispering 
in  her  eagerness  to  let  the  other  see  she  understood  the 
necessity  of  caution.  "  I  know  —  Deerslayer  and  the  Ser 
pent  mean  to  get  you  away  from  the  Iroquois  ;  and  you 
wish  me  not  to  tell  the  secret." 

"  How  you  know?"  said  Hist,  hastily,  vexed  at  the 
moment  that  the  other  was  not  even  more  feeble-minded 
than  was  actually  the  case.  "  How  you  know  ?  Better  not 
talk  of  any  but  fader  and  Hurry  ;  Mingo  understand  dat ; 
he  no  understand  / '  udder.  Promise  you  no  talk  about 
what  you  no  understand." 

"  But  I  do  understand  this,  Hist ;  and  so  I  must  talk 
about  it.  Deerslayer  as  good  as  told  father  all  about  it,  in 
my  presence  ;  and  as  nobody  told  me  not  to  listen,  I  over 
heard  it  all,  as  I  did  Hurry  and  father's  discourse  about 
the  scalps." 

"  Very  bad  for  paleface  to  talk  about  scalps,  and  very 
bad  for  young  woman  to  hear !  Now  you  love  Hist,  I 
know,  Hetty,  and  so,  among  Injins,  when  love  hardest 
never  talk  most." 

"  That 's  not  the  way  among  white  people,  who  talk 
most  about  them  they  love  best.  I  suppose  it 's  because 
I  'm  only  half-witted  that  I  don't  see  the  reason  why  it 
should  be  so  different  among  red  people." 

"  That  what  Deerslayer  call  gift.  One  gift  to  talk, 
t' udder  gift  to  hold  tongue.  Hold-tongue  your  gift, 
among  Mingos.  If  Serpent  want  to  see  Hist,  so  Hetty 
want  to  see  Hurry.  Good  girl  never  tell  .secret  of  friend." 


THE  RANSOM  137 

Hetty  understood  this  appeal  ;  and  she  promised  the 
Delaware  girl  not  to  make  any  allusion  to  the  presence  of 
Chingachgook,  or  to  the  motive  of  his  visit  to  the  lake. 

"  Maybe  he  get  off  Hurry  and  fader,  as  well  as  Hist,  if 
let  him  have  his  way,"  whispered  Wah-ta-Wah  to  her 
companion,  in  a  confiding,  flattering  way,  just  as  they  got 
near  enough  to  the  encampment  to  hear  the  voices  of  sev 
eral  of  their  own  sex,  who  were  apparently  occupied  in 
the  usual  toils  of  women  of  their  class.  "  T'ink  of  dat, 
Hetty,  and  put  two,  twenty  finger  on  mouth.  No  get 
friends  free  without  Serpent  do  it." 

A  better  expedient  could  not  have  been  adopted  to  se 
cure  the  silence  and  discretion  of  Hetty  than  that  which 
was  now  presented  to  her  mind.  As  the  liberation  of  her 
father  and  the  young  frontier-man  was  the  great  object  of 
her  adventure,  she  felt  the  connection  between  it  and  the 
services  of  the  Delaware  ;  and  with  an  innocent  laugh,  she 
nodded  her  head,  and  in  the  same  suppressed  manner 
promised  a  due  attention  to  the  wishes  of  her  friend. 
Thus  assured,  Hist  tarried  no  longer,  but  immediately  and 
openly  led  the  way  into  the  encampment  of  her  captors. 

CHAPTER  V 

That  the  party  to  which  Hist  compulsorily  belonged  was 
not  one  that  was  regularly  on  the  warpath  was  evident  by 
the  presence  of  females.  It  was  a  small  fragment  of  a  tribe 
that  had  been  hunting  and  fishing  within  the  English  limits, 
where  it  was  found  by  the  commencement  of  hostilities  be 
tween  the  English  and  the  French  —  a  struggle  that  would 
involve  all  tribes  allied  with  either  side.  These  Indians 


138  THE  DEERSLAYER 

had  therefore  passed  the  winter  and  spring  living  within 
the  territory  of  their  enemies.  When  the  runner  arrived 
with  the  news  that  war  had  broken  out,  they  adopted  a 
plan  which  showed  deep  Indian  sagacity.  To  have  fled  in 
a  direct  line  for  the  Canadas  would  have  exposed  them  to 
the  dangers  of  a  direct  pursuit  •  and  the  chiefs  had  deter 
mined  to  adopt  the  expedient  of  penetrating  deeper  into  a 
region  that  had  now  become  dangerous,  in  the  hope  of  be 
ing  able  to  retire  in  the  rear  of  their  pursuers  instead  of 
having  them  on  their  trail.  The  presence  of  the  women 
had  induced  the  attempt  at  this  ruse,  the  strength  of  these 
feebler  members  of  the  party  being  unequal  to  the  effort  of 
escaping  from  the  pursuit  of  warriors.  When  the  reader 
remembers  the  vast  extent  of  the  American  wilderness  at 
that  early  day,  he  will  perceive  that  it  was  possible  for 
even  a  tribe  to  remain  months  undiscovered  in  particular 
portions  of  it ;  nor  was  there  great  danger  of  encountering 
a  foe,  the  usual  precautions  being  observed. 

The  encampment  to  which  Hist  was  leading  her  new 
friend  was  therefore  only  temporary,  as  the  party  was  con 
tinually  on  the  move.  One  fire,  that  had  been  kindled 
against  the  roots  of  a  living  oak,  sufficed  for  the  whole 
party,  the  weather  being  too  mild  to  require  it  for  any  pur 
pose  but  cooking.  Scattered  around  this  centre  of  attraction 
were  some  fifteen  or  twenty  low  huts  —  perhaps  kennels 
would  be  a  better  word  —  into  which  their  different  owners 
crept  at  night,  and  which  were  also  intended  to  meet  the 
exigencies  of  a  storm.  These  little  huts  were  made  of  the 
branches  of  trees,  put  together  with  some  ingenuity,  and 
they  were  uniformly  topped  with  bark  that  had  been 
stripped  from  fallen  trees,  of  which  every  virgin  forest 


THE  RANSOM  139 

possesses  hundreds,  in  all  stages  of  decay.  Of  furniture 
they  had  next  to  none.  Cooking  utensils  of  the  simplest 
sort  were  lying  near  the  fire  ;  a  few  articles  of  clothing 
were  to  be  seen  in  or  around  the  huts  ;  rifles,  horns, 
and  pouches  leaned  against  the  trees,  or  were  suspended 
from-  the  lower  branches  ;  and  the  carcasses  of  two  or 
three  deer  were  stretched  to  view  on  the  same  natural 
shambles. 

As  the  encampment  was  in  the  midst  of  a  dense  wood, 
the  eye  could  not  take  in  the  whole  effect  at  a  glance  ;  but 
hut  after  hut  started  out  of  the  gloomy  picture,  as  one 
gazed  about  him  in  quest  of  objects.  There  was  no  centre, 
unless  the  fire  might  be  so  considered  —  no  open  area 
where  the  possessors  of  this  rude  village  might  congre 
gate  ;  but  all  was  dark,  covert,  and  cunning,  like  its  own 
ers.  A  few  children  strayed  from  hut  to  hut,  giving  the 
spot  a  little  the  air  of  domestic  life  ;  and  the  suppressed 
laugh  and  low  voices  of  the  women  occasionally  broke  in 
upon  the  deep  stillness  of  the  sombre  forest.  As  for  the 
men,  they  either  ate,  slept,  or  examined  their  arms.  They 
conversed  but  little,  and  then  usually  apart,  or  in  groups 
withdrawn  from  the  females  ;  whilst  an  air  of  untiring, 
innate  watchfulness  and  apprehension  of  danger  seemed 
to  be  blended  even  with  their  slumbers. 

As  the  two  girls  came  near  the  encampment,  Hetty 
uttered  a  slight  exclamation  on  catching  a  view  of  the  per 
son  of  her  father.  He  was  seated  on  the  ground  with  his 
back  to  a  tree,  and  Hurry  stood  near  him,  indolently  whit 
tling  a  twig.  Apparently,  they  were  as  much  at  liberty  as 
any  others  in  or  about  the  camp ;  and  one  unaccustomed 
to  Indian  usages  would  have  mistaken  them  for  visitors, 


140  THE  DEERSLAYER 

instead  of  supposing  them  to  be  captives.  Wah-ta-Wah 
led  her  new  friend  quite  near  them,  and  then  modestly 
withdrew,  that  her  own  presence  might  be  no  restraint  on 
her  feelings.  But  Hetty  was  not  sufficiently  familiar  with 
caresses  or  outward  demonstrations  of  fondness,  to  indulge 
in  any  outbreaking  of  feeling.  She  merely  approached  and 
stood  at  her  father's  side  without  speaking.  The  old  man 
expressed  neither  alarm  nor  surprise  at  her  sudden  appear 
ance.  In  these  particulars  he  had  caught  the  stoicism  of 
the  Indians  ;  well  knowing  that  there  was  no  more  certain 
mode  of  securing  their  respect  than  by  imitating  their  self- 
command.  Nor  did  the  savages  themselves  betray  the  least 
sign  of  surprise  at  this  sudden  appearance  of  a  stranger 
among  them.  Still,  a  few  warriors  collected,  and  it  was 
evident,  by  the  manner  in  which  they  glanced  at  Hetty  as 
they  conversed  together,  that  she  was  the  subject  of  their 
discourse. 

H utter  was  inwardly  much  moved  by  the  conduct  of 
Hetty,  though  he  affected  so  much  indifference  of  manner. 
He  recollected  her  gentle  appeal  to  him  before  he  left  the 
ark,  and  knowing  the  simple,  single-hearted  fidelity  of  his 
child,  he  understood  why  she  had  come. 

"This  is  not  well,  Hetty,"  he  said.  "You  should  not 
have  come  hither ;  these  are  fierce  Iroquois  and  they  will 
not  understand  your  nature  or  your  intentions !  " 

"  Tell  me,  father,"  returned  the  girl,  looking  furtively 
about  her,  as  if  fearful  of  being  overheard,  "  did  God  let 
you  do  the  cruel  errand  on  which  you  came  ?  I  want 
much  to  know  this,  that  I  may  speak  to  the  Indians 
plainly  if  He  did  not.  Did  you  and  Hurry  get  any 
scalps,  father  ?  " 


THE  RANSOM  141 

"  If  that  will  set  your  mind  at  peace,  child,  I  can  answer 
you,  no.  I  had  caught  the  young  creatur'  who  came  here 
with  you,  but  her  screeches  soon  brought  down  upon  me 
a  troop  of  the  wild-cats  that  was  too  much  for  any  single 
Christian  to  withstand.  If  that  will  do  you  any  good,  we 
are  as  innocent  of  having  taken  a  scalp  this  time  as  I  make 
no  doubt  we  shall  also  be  innocent  of  receiving  the  bounty." 

"  Thank  you  for  that,  father  !  Now  I  can  speak  boldly 
to  the  Iroquois,  and  with  an  easy  conscience.  I  hope 
Hurry,  too,  has  not  been  able  to  harm  any  of  the  Indians  ?  " 

"Why,  as  to  that  matter,  Hetty,"  returned  the  indi 
vidual  in  question,  "  you  've  put  it  pretty  much  in  the 
natyve  character  of  the  religious  truth.  Hurry  has  not 
been  able,  and  that  is  the  long  and  short  of  it." 

"  It 's  best  so,  Hurry,"  she  said.  "  It  is  best  father  and 
you  should  be  quiet  and  peaceable  till  I  have  spoken  to  the 
Iroquois,  when  all  will  be  well  and  happy.  I  don't  wish 
either  of  you  to  follow,  but  leave  me  to  myself.  As  soon 
as  all  is  settled,  and  you  are  at  liberty  to  go  back  to  the 
castle,  I  will  come  and  let  you  know  it." 

Hetty  spoke  with  so  much  simple  earnestness  and  seemed 
so  confident  of  success,  that  both  the  listeners  felt  more 
disposed  to  attach  an  importance  to  her  mediation  than 
might  otherwise  have  happened.  When  she  manifested 
an  intention  to  quit  them,  therefore,  and  join  the  group 
of  chiefs,  they  offered  no  obstacle. 

When  Hist —  for  so  we  love  best  to  call  her  —  quitted 
her  companion,  she  strayed  near  one  or  two  of  the  elder 
warriors,  who  had  shown  her  most  kindness  in  her  cap 
tivity —  the  principal  man  of  whom  had  even  offered  to 
adopt  her  as  his  child,  if  she  would  consent  to  become  a 


142  THE  DEERSLAYER 

Huron.  In  taking  this  direction  the  shrewd  girl  did  so  to 
invite  inquiry.  She  was  too  well  trained  in  the  habits  of 
her  people  to  obtrude  the  opinions  of  one  of  her  sex  and 
years  on  men  and  warriors  ;  but  Hetty  had  hardly  reached 
the  side  of  her  father  before  the  Delaware  girl  was  brought 
within  the  circle  of  the  warriors  by  a  secret  but  significant 
gesture.  Here  she  was  questioned  as  to  the  presence  of 
her  companion,  and  the  motives  that  had  brought  her  to 
the  camp.  This  was  all  that  Hist  desired.  She  explained 
the  manner  in  which  she  had  detected  the  weakness  of 
Hetty's  reason,  rather  exaggerating  than  lessening  the  de 
ficiency  in  her  intellect ;  and  then  she  related  in  general 
terms  the  object  of  the  girl  in  venturing  among  her 
enemies.  The  effect  was  all  that  the  speaker  expected  ; 
her  account  investing  the  person  and  character  of  their 
visitor  with  a  sacredness  and  respect  that  she  well  knew 
would  prove  her  protection.  As  soon  as  her  own  purpose 
was  attained  Hist  withdrew  to  a  distance,  though  she  did 
not  for  a  moment  relax  her  watchfulness. 

As  Hetty  approached  the  chiefs  they  opened  their  little 
circle  with  an  ease  and  deference  of  manner  that  would 
have  done  credit  to  men  of  more  courtly  origin.  A  fallen 
tree  lay  near,  and  the  oldest  of  the  warriors  made  a  quiet 
sign  for  the  girl  to  be  seated  on  it,  taking  his  place  at  her 
side  with  the  gentleness  of  a  father.  The  others  arranged 
themselves  around  the  two  with  grave  dignity ;  and  then 
the  girl,  who  had  sufficient  observation  to  perceive  that 
such  a  course  was  expected  of  her,  began  to  reveal  the 
object  of  her  visit.  The  moment  she  opened  her  mouth 
to  speak,  however,  the  old  chief  gave  a  gentle  sign  for  her 
to  forbear,  said  a  few  words  to  one  of  his  juniors,  and  then 


THE  RANSOM  143 

waited  in  silent  patience  until  the  latter  had  summoned 
Hist  to  act  as  interpreter,  a  role  which  she  was  only  too 
glad  to  be  allowed  to  take,  as  she  hoped  to  be  able,  by  arti 
fice  if  need  be,  to  shelter  Hetty  and  to  conceal  the  fact  of 
the  presence  of  her  betrothed,  should  Hetty  forget  herself 
and  betray  too  much.  But  Hetty's  errand  was  of  a  very 
different  nature. 

As  soon  as  Hist  was  seated  by  the  side  of  Hetty,  the 
old  chief  desired  her  to  ask  "  the  fair  young  paleface  " 
what  had  brought  her  among  the  Iroquois,  and  what  they 
could  do  to  serve  her. 

"Tell  them,  Hist,  who  I  am  —  Thomas  Hutter's 
youngest  daughter ;  Thomas  H  utter,  the  oldest  of  their 
two  prisoners  ;  he  who  owns  the  castle  and  the  ark,  and 
who  has  the  best  right  to  be  thought  the  owner  of  these 
hills  and  that  lake,  since  he  has  dwelt  so  long,  and  trapped 
so  long,  and  fished  so  long  among  them.  They  '11  know 
whom  you  mean  by  Thomas  Hutter,  if  you  tell  them  that. 
And  then  tell  them  that  I  've  come  here  to  convince  them 
they  ought  not  to  harm  father  and  Hurry,  but  let  them  go 
in  peace,  and  to  treat  them  as  brothers,  rather  than  as  ene 
mies.  Now  tell  them  all  this  plainly,  Hist,  and  fear  noth 
ing  for  yourself  or  me  ;  God  will  protect  us." 

Wah-ta-Wah  did  as  the  other  desired,  taking  care  to 
render  the  words  of  her  friend  as  literally  as  possible  into 
the  Iroquois  tongue,  a  language  she  used  with  a  readiness 
almost  equal  to  that  with  which  she  spoke  her  own.  The 
chiefs  heard  this  opening  explanation  with  grave  decorum  ; 
the  two  who  had  a  little  knowledge  of  English  intimating 
their  satisfaction  with  the  interpreter  by  furtive  but  sig 
nificant  glances  of  the  eyes. 


144  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  And  now,  Hist,"  continued  Hetty,  as  soon  as  it  was 
intimated  to  her  that  she  might  proceed  ;  "  and  now,  Hist, 
I  wish  you  to  tell  these  red-men,  word  for  word,  what  I 
am  about  to  say.  Tell  them  first,  that  father  and  Hurry 
came  here  with  an  intention  to  take  as  many  scalps  as  they 
could ;  for  the  wicked  governor  and  the  province  have 
offered  money  for  scalps,  whether  of  warriors  or  women, 
men  or  children  ;  and  the  love  of  gold  was  too  strong  for 
their  hearts  to  withstand  it.  Tell  them  this,  dear  Hist, 
just  as  you  have  heard  it  from  me,  word  for  word." 

Wah-ta-Wah  hesitated  about  rendering  this  speech  as 
literally  as  had  been  desired  ;  but  detecting  the  intelli 
gence  of  those  who  understood  English,  she  was  com 
pelled  to  comply.  This  admission  of  the  errand  of  their 
prisoners  produced,  however,  no  visible  effect  on  the 
countenances  of  the  listeners. 

"And  now,  Hist,"  resumed  Hetty,  "you  can  tell  them 
more.  They  know  that  father  and  Hurry  did  not  succeed  ; 
and  therefore  they  can  bear  them  no  grudge  for  any  harm 
that  has  been  done.  If  they  had  slain  their  children  and 
wives,  it  would  not  alter  the  matter ;  and  I  'm  not  certain 
that  what  I  am  about  to  tell  them  would  not  have  more 
weight  had  there  been  mischief  done.  But  ask  them  first, 
Hist,  if  they  know  there  is  a  God  who  reigns  over  the  whole 
earth  and  is  ruler  and  chief  of  all  who  live,  let  them  be  red 
or  white,  or  what  color  they  may." 

Wah-ta-Wah  looked  a  little  surprised  at  this  question  ; 
for  the  idea  of  the  Great  Spirit  is  seldom  long  absent  from 
the  mind  of  an  Indian  girl.  She  put  the  question,  however, 
and  received  a  grave  answer  in  the  affirmative. 

;'  This  is  right,"  continued  Hetty,  "and  my  duty  will 


THE  RANSOM  145 

now  be  light.  This  Great  Spirit,  as  you  call  our  God,  has 
caused  a  book  to  be  written,  that  we  call  a  Bible ;  and  in 
this  book  have  been  set  down  all  his  commandments,  and 
his  holy  will  and  pleasure,  and  the  rules  by  which  all  men 
are  to  live,  and  directions  how  to  govern  the  thoughts  even, 
and  the  wishes,  and  the  will.  Here,  this  is  one  of  these 
holy  books,  and  you  must  tell  the  chiefs  what  I  am  about 
to  read  to  them  from  its  sacred  pages." 

As  Hetty  concluded,  she  reverently  unrolled  a  small 
English  Bible  from  its  envelope  of  coarse  calico  ;  treating 
the  volume  with  the  sort  of  external  respect  that  a  Roman 
ist  would  be  apt  to  show  to  a  religious  relic.  As  she  slowly 
proceeded  in  her  task,  the'grim  warriors  watched  each  move 
ment  with  riveted  eyes ;  and  when  they  saw  the  little  vol 
ume  appear,  a  slight  expression  of  surprise  escaped  one  or 
two  of  them.  But  Hetty  held  it  out  towards  them  in  tri 
umph,  as  if  she  expected  the  sight  would  produce  a  visible 
miracle  ;  and  then  she  turned  eagerly  to  her  new  friend,  in 
order  to  renew  the  discourse. 

"  This  is  the  sacred  volume,  Hist,"  she  said,  "  and  these 
words  and  lines,  and  verses  and  chapters,  all  came  from 
God." 

"Why  Great  Spirit  no  send  book  to  Injin,  too?"  de 
manded  Hist. 

"  Why  ?  "  answered  Hetty,  a  little  bewildered  by  a  ques 
tion  so  unexpected.  "  Why  ?  Ah  !  you  know  the  Indians 
don't  know  how  to  read." 

If  Hist  was  not  satisfied  with  the  explanation,  she  did 
not  deem  the  point  of  sufficient  importance  to  be  pressed, 
but  sat  patiently  awaiting  the  further  arguments  of  the 
paleface  enthusiast. 


146  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  You  can  tell  these  chiefs,  that  throughout  this  book, 
men  are  ordered  to  forgive  their  enemies  ;  to  treat  them 
as  they  would  brethren  ;  and  never  to  injure  their  fellow- 
creatures,  more  especially  on  account  of  revenge,  or  any 
evil  passion.  Do  you  think  you  can  tell  them  this,  so  that 
they  will  understand  it,  Hist  ?  " 

1 ' Tell  him  well  enough ;  but  he  no  very  easy  to  understand." 

"  I  will  now  read  to  the  warriors  some  of  the  verses  that 
it  is  good  for  them  to  know,"  continued  the  girl,  whose 
manner  grew  more  solemn  and  earnest  as  she  proceeded  ; 
"  and  they  will  remember  that  they  are  the  words  of  the 
Great  Spirit.  First,  then,  ye  are  commanded  to  ''Love  thy 
neighbor  as  thyself'  Tell  them  that,  dear  Hist." 

"  Neighbor  for  Injin  no  mean  paleface,"  answered  the 
Delaware  girl,  with  more  decision  than  she  had  hitherto 
thought  it  necessary  to  use.  "  Neighbor  mean  Iroquois 
for  Iroquois,  Mohican  for  Mohican,  paleface  for  paleface. 
No  need  tell  chief  anything  else." 

"  You  forget,  Hist,  these  are  the  words  of  the  Great 
Spirit,  and  the  chiefs  must  obey  them  as  well  as  others. 
Here  is  another  commandment :  '  Whosoever  shall  smite 
thee  on  the  right  cheek,  turn  to  him  the  other  also. 

"What  that  mean?"  demanded  Hist,  with  the  quick 
ness  of  lightning. 

Hetty  explained  that  it  was  an  order  not  to  resent  in 
juries,  but  rather  to  submit  to  receive  fresh  wrongs  from 
the  offender. 

"And  hear  this  too,  Hist,"  she  added,  "  'Love  your 
enemies,  bless  them  that  curse  you,  do  good  to  them  that 
hate  yoii,  and  pray  for  them  which  despitefully  use  you 
and  persecute  you'  ' 


THE  RANSOM  147 

By  this  time  Hetty  had  become  excited.  Her  eye 
gleamed  with  the  earnestness  of  her  feelings,  her  cheeks 
flushed,  and  her  voice,  usually  so  low  and  modulated,  became 
stronger  and  more  impressive.  With  the  Bible  she  had  been 
early  made  familiar  by  her  mother ;  and  she  now  turned 
from  passage  to  passage  with  surprising  rapidity,  taking  care 
to  cull  such  verses  as  taught  the  sublime  lessons  of  Chris 
tian  charity  and  Christian  forgiveness.  To  translate  half 
she  said,  in  her  pious  earnestness,  Wah-ta-Wah  would 
have  found  impracticable,  had  she  made  the  effort ;  but 
she  gave  a  brief  translation  of  the  substance  of  what  had 
been  both  read  and  said. 

It  will  be  scarcely  necessary  to  tell  the  reader  the  effect 
that  such  novel  duties  would  be  likely  to  produce  among 
a  group  of  Indian  warriors,  with  whom  it  was  a  species  of 
religious  principle  never  to  forget  a  benefit  or  to  forgive 
an  injury.  Fortunately,  the  previous  explanations  of  Hist 
had  prepared  the  minds  of  the  Hurons  for  something 
extravagant ;  and  there  were  one  or  two  old  men  who  had 
heard  similar  doctrines  from  the  missionaries. 

11  This  is  the  Good  Book  of  the  palefaces,"  observed 
one  of  these  chiefs,  taking  the  volume  from  the  unresist-. 
ing  hand  of  Hetty,  who  gazed  anxiously  at  his  face,  while 
he  turned  the  leaves,  as  if  she  expected  to  witness  some 
visible  results  from  the  circumstance.  "  This  is  the  law  by 
which  my  white  brethren  profess  to  live  ?  " 

Hist,  to  whom  this  question  was  addressed,  answered 
simply  in  the  affirmative. 

"Tell  my  young  sister,"  said  the  Huron,  looking  di 
rectly  at  Hist,  "that  my  name  is  Rivenoak,  and  that  I  will 
open  my  mouth  and  say  a  few  words." 


148  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  The  Iroquois  chief  Rivenoak  go  to  speak — my  pale 
face  friend  listen,"  said  Hist. 

"  I  rejoice  to  hear  it !  "  exclaimed  Hetty.  "  God  has 
touched  his  heart,  and  he  will  let  father  and  Hurry  go !  " 

"  This  is  the  paleface  law,"  resumed  the  chief.  "  It  tells 
him  to  do  good  to  them  that  hurt  him ;  when  his  brother 
asks  him  for  his  rifle,  to  give  him  the  powderhorn  too. 
Such  is  the  paleface  law  ?  " 

"Not  so  —  not  so,"  answered  Hetty  earnestly,  when 
these  words  had  been  interpreted.  "  There  is  not  a  word 
about  rifles  in  the  whole  book ;  and  powder  and  bullets 
give  offense  to  the  Great  Spirit." 

11  Why,  then,  does  the  paleface  use  them  ?  If  he  is 
ordered  to  give  double  to  him  that  asks  only  for  one  thing, 
why  does  he  take  double  from  the  poor  Indians,  who  ask 
for  no  thing  ?  He  comes  from  beyond  the  rising  sun,  with 
his  book  in  his  hand,  and  he  teaches  the  red-man  to  read 
it ;  but  why  does  he  forget  himself  all  it  says  ?  When  the 
Indian  gives,  he  is  never  satisfied  ;  and  now  he  offers  gold 
for  the  scalps  of  our  women  and  children,  though  he  calls  us 
beasts  if  we  take  the  scalp  of  a  warrior  killed  in  open  war." 

When  Hetty  had  got  this  formidable  question  fairly 
presented  to  her  mind  in  the  translation,  and  Hist  did  her 
duty  with  more  than  usual  readiness  on  this  occasion,  it 
scarcely  need  be  said  that  she  was  sorely  perplexed. 

"  What  shall  I  tell  them,  Hist  ?  "  she  asked,  implor 
ingly;  "  I  know  that  all  I  have  read  from  the  book  is  true  ; 
and  yet  it  would  n't  seem  so,  would  it,  by  the  conduct  of 
those  to  whom  the  book  was  given  ?  " 

"  Give  'em  paleface  reason,"  returned  Hist,  ironically,— 
"that  always  good  for  one  side ;  though  he  bad  for  t'  other." 


THE  RANSOM  149 

"  No,  no,  Hist,  there  can't  be  two  sides  to  truth  —  and 
yet  it  does  seem  strange !  I  'm  certain  I  have  read  the 
verses  right,  and  no  one  would  be  so  wicked  as  to  print 
the  word  of  God  wrong.  That  can  never  be,  Hist." 

"  Well,  to  poor  Injin  girl  it  seem  everything  can  be  to 
palefaces,"  returned  the  other  coolly.  "  One  time  'ey  say 
white,  and  one  time  'ey  say  black.  Why,  never  can  be?" 

Hetty  was  more  and  more  embarrassed,  until,  overcome 
with  the  apprehension  that  she  had  failed  in  her  object, 
and  that  the  lives  of  her  father  and  Hurry  would  be  the 
forfeit  of  some  blunder  of  her  own,  she  burst  into  tears. 
From  that  moment  the  manner  of  Hist  lost  all  its  irony 
and  cool  indifference,  and  she  became  the  fond  caressing 
friend  again.  Throwing  her  arms  around  the  afflicted  girl, 
she  attempted  to  soothe  her  sorrows  by  the  scarcely  ever 
failing  remedy  of  female  sympathy. 

"Stop  cry— no  cry,"  she  said,  wiping  the  tears  from 
the  face  of  Hetty,  as  she  would  have  performed  the  same 
office  for  a  child,  and  stopping  to  press  her,  occasionally, 
to  her  own  warm  bosom  with  the  affection  of  a  sister ; 
"why  you  so  trouble?  You  no  make  he  book,  if  he  be 
wrong ;  and  you  no  make  he  paleface,  if  he  be  wicked. 
There  wicked  red  man,  and  wicked  white  man  —  no  color 
all  good  —  no  color  all  wicked.  Chiefs  know  that  well 
enough." 

Hetty  soon  recovered  from  this  sudden  burst  of  grief, 
and  then  her  mind  reverted  to  the  purpose  of  her  visit, 
with  its  single-hearted  earnestness.  Perceiving  that  the 
grim-looking  chiefs  were  still  standing  around  her,  in 
grave  attention,  she  hoped  that  another  effort  to  convince 
them  of  the  right  might  be  successful. 


150  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"Listen,  Hist,"  she  said,  struggling  to  suppress  her 
sobs,  and  to  speak  distinctly ;  "  tell  the  chiefs  that  it  mat 
ters  not  what  the  wicked  do  —  right  is  right  —  the  words 
of  the  Great  Spirit  are  the  words  of  the  Great  Spirit  — 
and  no  one  can  go  harmless  for  doing  an  evil  act  because 
another  has  done  it  before  him  !  ' 'Render  good  for  evil? 
says  this  book ;  and  that  is  the  law  for  the  red  man  as 
well  as  for  the  white  man." 

"  Never  hear  such  law  among  Delaware,  or  among  Iro- 
quois,"  answered  Hist,  soothingly.  "  No  good  to  tell  chiefs 
any  such  law  as  dat.  Tell  'em  somet'ing  they  believe." 

Hist  was  about  to  proceed,  notwithstanding,  when  a  tap 
on  the  shoulder,  from  the  finger  of  the  oldest  chief,  and 
a  gesture  in  the  direction  of  her  hut  indicated  to  her  that, 
for  the  time  being  at  least,  the  girls  were  to  withdraw  from 
the  council. 

CHAPTER  VI 

We  left  the  occupants  of  the  castle  and  the  ark  buried 
in  sleep.  Once  or  twice  in  the  course  of  the  night,  it  is 
true,  Deerslayer  or  the  Delaware  arose  and  looked  out 
upon  the  tranquil  lake,  when,  finding  all  safe,  each  re 
turned  to  his  pallet.  At  the  first  signs  of  the  dawn,  the 
former  arose,  however,  and  ere  the  sun  had  shown  him 
self  over  the  eastern  hills,  all  three  were  up  and  afoot. 
The  meeting  at  the  morning  meal  was  silent,  grave,  and 
thoughtful.  Judith  showed  by  her  looks  that  she  had 
passed  an  unquiet  night,  while  the  two  men  had  the  fu 
ture  before  them,  with  its  unseen  and  unknown  events. 
A  few  words  of  courtesy  passed  between  Deerslayer  and 
the  girl  in  the  course  of  the  breakfast,  but  no  allusion  was 


THE  RANSOM  151 

made  to  their  situation.  At  length  Judith  introduced  the 
subject. 

"It  would  be  dreadful,  Deerslayer,"  the  girl  abruptly 
exclaimed,  "  should  anything  serious  befall  my  father  and 
Hetty !  We  cannot  remain  quietly  here  and  leave  them  in 
the  hands  of  the  Iroquois,  without  bethinking  us  of  some 
means  of  serving  them." 

"  I  'm  ready,  Judith,  to  sarve  them,  could  the  way  to  do 
it  be  pointed  out.  It 's  no  trifling  matter  to  fall  into  red 
skin  hands,  when  men  set  out  on  an  arr'nd  like  that  which 
took  Hutter  and  Hurry  ashore  ;  that  I  know  as  well  as  an 
other,  and  I  would  n't  wish  my  worst  inimy  in  such  a  strait, 
much  less  them  with  whom  I  've  journeyed  and  eat  and 
slept.  Have  you  any  scheme  that  you  would  like  to  have 
the  Sarpent  and  me  indivor  to  carry  out  ?  " 

"  I  know  of  no  other  means  to  release  the  prisoners  than 
by  bribing  the  Iroquois.  They  are  not  proof  against  pres 
ents  ;  and  we  might  offer  enough,  perhaps,  to  make  them 
think  it  better  to  carry  away  what  to  them  will  be  rich 
gifts  than  to  carry  away  poor  prisoners ;  if,  indeed,  they 
should  carry  them  away  at  all !  " 

"  This  is  well  enough,  Judith  ;  yes,  it 's  well  enough,  if 
the  inimy  is  to  be  bought,  and  we  can  find  articles  to  make 
the  purchase  with.  Your  father  has  a  convenient  lodge, 
and  it  is  most  cunningly  placed ;  though  it  does  n't  seem 
overstocked  with  riches  that  will  be  likely  to  buy  his  ran 
som.  There  's  the  piece  he  calls  Killdeer  might  count  for 
something,  and  I  understand  there  's  a  keg  of  powder  about, 
which  might  be  a  make-weight,  sartain  ;  and  yet  two  able- 
bodied  men  are  not  to  be  bought  off  for  a  trifle  —  the  price 
of  two  scalps  would  purchase  a  keg  of  powder  and  a  rifle  ; 


152  THE  DEERSLAYER 

though  I  '11  not  say  one  of  the  latter  altogether  as  good  as 
Killdeer  there,  which  your  father  va'nts  as  oncommon,  and 
onequaled-like.  But  fair  powder,  and  a  pretty  sartain  rifle  ; 
and  the  red-men  are  not  expart  enough  in  fire-arms  to 
know  the  difference." 

"  But  you  overlook  my  own  clothes,  Deerslayer ;  and 
they,  I  think,  might  go  far  with  the  women  of  the  Iroquois." 

"  No  doubt  they  would  ;  no  doubt  they  would,  Judith," 
returned  the  other,  looking  at  her  keenly,  as  if  he  would 
ascertain  whether  she  were  really  capable  of  making  such 
a  sacrifice.  "  But  are  you  sartain,  gal,  you  could  find  it  in 
your  heart  to  part  with  your  own  finery  for  such  a  purpose  ? 
You  're  handsome  —  oncommon  in  that  way,  one  might  ob- 
sarve,  and  do  no  harm  to  the  truth  ;  and  they  that  have 
beauty  like  to  have  that  which  will  adorn  it.  Are  you  sar 
tain  you  could  find  it  in  your  heart  to  part  with  your  finery  ? " 

"You  must  keep  all  your  favorable  opinions  for  the 
Delaware  girls,  Deerslayer,  if  you  seriously  think  thus  of 
those  of  your  own  color,"  she  said,  with  flashing  eye,  and 
a  flush  that  mounted  to  her  temples.  "Try  me;  if  you 
find  that  I  regret  either  ribbon  or  feather,  silk  or  muslin, 
then  may  you  think  what  you  please  of  my  heart,  and  say 
what  you  think.  But  't  is  as  you  say,  Deerslayer ;  the  In 
dians  will  not  be  likely  to  give  up  their  prisoners  without 
a  heavier  bribe  than  my  clothes  can  offer,  and  father's  rifle 
and  powder.  There  is  the  chest." 

"  Aye,  there  is  the  chist,  as  you  say,  Judith  ;  and  when 
the  question  gets  to  be  between  a  secret  and  a  scalp,  I 
should  think  most  men  would  prefar  keeping  the  last. 
Did  your  father  ever  give  you  any  downright  command 
consarning  that  chist  ?  " 


THE  RANSOM  153 

"  Never." 

'  'T  is  a  rare  chist,  and  altogether  of  curious  build,"  re 
turned  Deerslayer,  rising  and  approaching  the  thing  in 
question,  on  which  he  seated  himself,  with  a  view  to  ex 
amine  it  with  greater  ease.  "  Chingachgook,  this  is  no 
wood  that  comes  of  any  forest  that  you  or  I  have  ever 
trailed  through  !  T  is  n't  the  black  walnut ;  and  yet  it 's 
quite  as  comely,  if  not  more  so,  did  the  smoke  and  the 
treatment  give  it  fair  play." 

The  Delaware  drew  near,  felt  of  the  wood,  examined 
its  grain,  endeavored  to  indent  the  surface  with  a  nail, 
and  passed  his  hand  curiously  over  the  steel  bands,  the 
heavy  padlocks,  and  the  other  novel  peculiarities  of  the 
massive  box. 

"No  —  nothing  like  this  grows  in  these  regions,"  re 
sumed  Deerslayer ;  "  I  've  seen  all  the  oaks,  both  the 
maples,  the  elms,  the  bass-wood,  all  the  walnuts,  the  but 
ternuts,  and  every  tree  that  has  a  substance  and  color, 
wrought  into  some  form  or  other ;  but  never  have  I  be 
fore  seen  such  a  wood  as  this  !  Judith,  the  chist  itself  would 
buy  your  father's  freedom,  or  Iroquois  cur'osity  is  n't  as 
strong  as  redskin  cur'osity,  in  general ;  especially  in  the 
matter  of  woods." 

"  The  purchase  might  be  cheaper  made,  perhaps,  Deer- 
slayer.    The  chest  is  full,  and  it  would  be  better  to  part 
with  half  than  to  part  with  the  whole.    Besides,  father  - 
I  know  not  why  —  but  father  values*  that  chest  highly." 

"He  would  seem  to  prize  what  it  holds  more  than  the 
chist  itself,  judging  by  the  manner  in  which  he  treats  the 
outside  and  secures  the  inside.  Here  are  three  locks, 
Judith  ;  is  there  no  key  ?  " 


154  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"I've  never  seen  one;  and  yet  key  there  must  be, 
since  Hetty  told  us  she  had  often  seen  the  chest  opened." 

"  Keys  no  more  lie  in  the  air,  or  float  on  the  water, 
than  humans,  gal ;  if  there  is  a  key,  there  must  be  a  place 
in  which  it  is  kept." 

11  That  is  true,  and  it  might  not  be  difficult  to  find  it, 
did  we  dare  to  search  !  " 

"  This  is  for  you,  Judith  ;  it  is  altogether  for  you.  If  the 
chist  has  articles  for  ransom,  it  seems  to  me  they  would  be 
wisely  used  in  redeeming  their  owner's  life,  or  even  in  sav 
ing  his  scalp  ;  but  that  is  a  matter  for  your  judgment,  and 
not  for  our  'n.  When  the  lawful  owner  of  a  trap,  or  a  buck, 
or  a  canoe,  is  n't  present,  his  next  of  kin  becomes  his  rip- 
risentatyve,  by  all  the  laws  of  the  woods.  We  therefore 
leave  you  to  say  whether  the  chist  shall  or  shall  not  be 
opened." 

tl  Deerslayer,  if  we  can  find  the  key,  I  will  authorize  you 
to  open  the  chest,  and  to  take  such  things  from  it  as  you 
may  think  will  buy  father's  ransom." 

"  First  find  the  key,  gal ;  we  '11  talk  of  the  rest  a'ter- 
wards.  Sarpent,  you  've  eyes  like  a  fly,  and  a  judgment 
that 's  seldom  out ;  can  you  help  us  in  calculating  where 
Floating  Tom  would  be  apt  to  keep  the  key  of  a  chist 
that  he  holds  to  be  as  private  as  this  ?  " 

The  Delaware  had  taken  no  part  in  the  discourse  until 
he  was  thus  directly  appealed  to,  when  he  quitted  the  chest, 
which  had  continued  to  attract  his  attention,  and  cast  about 
him  for  the  place  in  which  a  key  would  be  likely  to  be  con 
cealed  under  such  circumstances.  As  Judith  and  Deer- 
slayer  were  not  idle  the  while,  the  whole  three  were  soon 
engaged  in  an  anxious  and  spirited  search.  As  it  was 


THE  RANSOM  155 

certain  that  the  desired  key  was  not  to  be  found  in  any  of 
the  common  drawers  or  closets,  of  which  there  were  several 
in  the  building,  none  looked  there,  but  all  turned  their  in 
quiries  to  those  places  that  struck  them  as  ingenious  hid 
ing-places,  and  more  likely  to  be  used  for  such  a  purpose. 
In  this  manner  the  outer  room  was  thoroughly  but  fruit 
lessly  examined,  when  they  entered  the  sleeping  apart 
ment  of  Hutter.  This  part  of  the  rude  building  was 
better  furnished  than  the  rest  of  the  structure,  containing 
several  articles  that  had  been  especially  devoted  to  the 
service  of  the  deceased  wife  of  its  owner ;  but  as  Judith 
had  all  the  rest  of  the  keys  it  was  soon  rummaged,  with 
out  bringing  to  light  the  particular  key  desired. 

They  now  entered  the  bedroom  of  the  daughters.  Chin- 
gachgook  was  immediately  struck  with  the  contrast  between 
the  articles,  and  the  arrangement  of  that  side  of  the  room 
that  might  be  called  Judith's,  and  that  which  more  prop 
erly  belonged  to  Hetty.  A  slight  exclamation  escaped 
him,  and  pointing  in  each  direction,  he  alluded  to  the 
fact  in  a  low  voice,  speaking  to  his  friend  in  the  Delaware 
tongue. 

"As  you  think,  Sarpent,"  answered  Deerslayer,  whose 
remarks  we  always  translate  into  English,  preserving  as 
much  as  possible  of  the  peculiar  phraseology  and  manner 
of  the  man.  "  'T  is  just  so,  as  any  one  may  see  ;  and  'tis 
all  founded  in  natur'.  One  sister  loves  finery,  some  say, 
overmuch  ;  while  t'  other  is  as  meek  and  lowly  as  God 
ever  created  goodness  and  truth.  Yet,  after  all,  I  dare  say 
that  Judith  has  her  vartues,  and  Hetty  has  her  failin's." 

"  And  the  Feeble-Mind  has  seen  the  chest  opened  ?  " 
inquired  Chingachgook,  with  curiosity  in  his  glance. 


156  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  Sartain  ;  that  much  I  've  heard  from  her  own  lips ; 
and,  for  that  matter,  so  have  you.  It  seems  her  father 
does  n't  misgive  her  discretion,  though  he  does  that  of 
his  eldest  darter." 

11  Then  the  key  is  hid  only  from  the  Wild  Rose  ?  "  for 
so  Chingachgook  had  begun  gallantly  to  term  Judith,  in 
his  private  discourse  with  his  friend. 

"That 'sit!  That 's  just  it !  One  he  trusts,  and  the  other 
he  does  n't.  There  's  red  and  white  in  that,  Sarpent ;  all 
tribes  and  nations  agreeing  in  trusting  some,  and  refusing  to 
trust  other  some.  It  depends  on  character  and  judgment." 

"  Where  could  a  key  be  put,  so  little  likely  to  be  found 
by  the  Wild  Rose,  as  among  coarse  clothes  ?  " 

Deerslayer  started,  and  turning  to  his  friend  with  admi 
ration  expressed  in  every  lineament  of  his  face,  he  fairly 
laughed,  in  his  silent  but  hearty  manner,  at  the  ingenuity 
and  readiness  of  the  conjecture. 

"Your  name's  well  bestowed,  Sarpent  —  yes,  'tis  well 
bestowed  !  Sure  enough,  where  would  a  lover  of  finery  be 
so  little  likely  to  s'arch,  as  among  garments  as  coarse  and 
unseemly  as  these  of  poor  Hetty  ?  Take  the  garments 
down,  Delaware." 

Chingachgook  did  as  desired,  but  no  key  was  found. 
A  coarse  pocket,  apparently  empty,  hung  on  the  adjoining 
peg,  and  this  was  next  examined.  By  this  time,  the  atten 
tion  of  Judith  was  called  in  that  direction,  and  she  spoke 
hurriedly,  and  like  one  who  wished  to  save  unnecessary 
trouble. 

"  These  are  only  the  clothes  of  poor  Hetty,  dear  simple 
girl !  "  she  said  ;  "  nothing  we  seek  would  be  likely  to  be 
there." 


THE  RANSOM  157 

The  words  were  hardly  out  of  the  mouth  of  the  speaker, 
when  Chingachgook  drew  the  desired  key  from  the  pocket. 
Judith  was  too  quick  of  apprehension  not  to  understand  the 
reason  a  hiding-place  so  simple  and  exposed  had  been  used. 
The  blood  rushed  to  her  face,  as  much  with  resentment, 
perhaps,  as  with  shame ;  and  she  bit  her  lip,  though  she 
continued  silent.  Deerslayer  and  his  friend  now  discov 
ered  the  delicacy  of  men  of  native  refinement, —  neither 
smiling,  or  even  by  a  glance  betraying  how  completely  he 
understood  the  motives  and  ingenuity  of  this  clever  artifice. 
The  former,  who  had  taken  the  key  from  the  Indian,  led 
the  way  into  the  adjoining  room,  and  applying  it  to  a  lock, 
ascertained  that  the  right  instrument  had  actually  been 
found.  There  were  three  padlocks,  each  of  which,  how 
ever,  was  easily  opened  by  this  single  key.  Deerslayer  re 
moved  them  all,  loosened  the  hasps,  raised  the  lid  a  little 
to  make  certain  it  was  loose,  and  then  he  drew  back  from 
the  chest  several  feet,  signing  to  his  friend  to  follow. 

"  This  is  a  family  chist,  Judith,"  he  said,  "  and  'tis  like 
to  hold  family  secrets.  The  Sarpent  and  I  will  go  into  the 
ark,  and  look  to  the  canoes,  and  paddles,  and  oars ;  while 
you  can  examine  it  by  yourself,  and  find  out  whether  any 
thing  that  will  be  a  make-weight  in  a  ransom  is  or  is  not 
among  the  articles.  When  you  've  got  through,  give  us  a 
call,  and  we  '11  all  sit  in  council  together,  touching  the  valie 
of  the  articles." 

11  Stop,  Deerslayer,"  exclaimed  the  girl,  as  he  was  about 
to  withdraw  ;  "  not  a  single  thing  will  I  touch  —  I  will  not 
even  raise  the  lid  —  unless  you  are  present.  Father  and 
Hetty  have  seen  fit  to  keep  the  inside  of  this  chest  a  se 
cret  from  me,  and  I  am  much  too  proud  to  pry  into  their 


158  THE  DEERSLAYER 

hidden  treasures,  unless  it  were  for  their  own  good.  But 
on  no  account  will  I  open  the  chest  alone.  Stay  with  me, 
then  ;  I  want  witnesses  of  what  I  do." 

"  I  rather  think,  Sarpent,  that  the  gal  is  right!  Confi 
dence  and  reliance  beget  security,  but  suspicion  is  like  to 
make  us  all  wary.  Judith  has  a  right  to  ask  us  to  be  pres 
ent  ;  and  should  the  chist  hold  any  of  Master  Hutter's 
secrets,  they  will  fall  into  the  keeping  of  two  as  close- 
mouthed  young  men  as  are  to  be  found.  We  will  stay 
with  you,  Judith  —  but  first  let  us  take  a  look  at  the  lake 
and  the  shore,  for  this  chist  will  not  be  emptied  in  a 
minute." 

The  two  men  now  went  out  on  the  platform,  and  Deer- 
slayer  swept  the  shore  with  the  glass,  while  the  Indian 
gravely  turned  his  eye  on  the  water  and  the  woods  in 
quest  of  any  sign  that  might  betray  the  machinations  of 
their  enemies.  Nothing  was  visible,  and,  assured  of  their 
temporary  security,  the  three  collected  around  the  chest 
again,  with  the  avowed  object  of  opening  it. 

Finding  that  both  her  companions  were  watching  her 
movements  in  grave  silence,  Judith  placed  a  hand  on  the 
lid,  and  endeavored  to  raise  it.  Her  strength,  however, 
was  insufficient,  and  at  her  request  Deerslayer  applied  his 
strength  to  the  effort,  and  succeeded  in  raising  the  lid 
against  the  timbers  of  the  house,  where  he  took  care  to 
secure  it  by  a  sufficient  prop.  Judith  fairly  trembled,  as 
she  cast  her  first  glance  at  the  interior ;  and  she  felt  a 
temporary  relief  in  discovering  that  a  piece  of  canvas  that 
was  carefully  tucked  in  around  the  edges  effectually  con 
cealed  all  beneath  it.  The  chest  was  apparently  well  stored, 
however,  the  canvas  lying  within  an  inch  of  the  lid. 


THE  RANSOM  159 

"Here's  a  full  cargo,"  said  Deerslayer,  eying  the  ar 
rangement  ;  "  and  we  had  needs  go  to  work  leisurely,  and 
at  our  ease.  Sarpent,  bring  some  stools,  while  I  spread 
this  blanket  on  the  floor,  and  then  we  '11  begin  work  or 
derly  and  in  comfort." 

The  Delaware  complied  ;  Deerslayer  civilly  placed  a 
stool  for  Judith,  took  one  himself,  and  commenced  the 
removal  of  the  canvas  covering.  This  was  done  deliber 
ately,  and  in  as  cautious  a  manner  as  if  it  were  believed 
that  fabrics  of  a  delicate  construction  lay  hidden  beneath. 
When  the  canvas  was  removed,  the  first  articles  that 
came  in  view  were  some  of  the  habiliments  of  the  male 
sex.  These  were  of  fine  materials,  and,  according  to  the 
fashions  of  the  age,  were  gay  in  colors  and  rich  in  orna 
ments.  One  coat,  in  particular,  was  of  scarlet,  and  had 
buttonholes  worked  in  gold  thread.  Still  it  was  not  mili 
tary,  but  was  part  of  the  attire  of  a  civilian  of  condition, 
at  a  period  when  social  rank  was  rigidly  respected  in  dress. 
Chingachgook  could  not  refrain  from  an  exclamation  of 
pleasure,  as  soon  as  Deerslayer  opened  this  coat,  and  held 
it  up  to  view ;  for,  notwithstanding  all  his  trained  self- 
command,  the  splendor  of  the  vestment  was  too  much  for 
the  philosophy  of  an  Indian.  Deerslayer  turned  quickly, 
and  regarded  his  friend  with  a  momentary  displeasure  at 
this  sign  of  weakness.  Then  he  spoke  indulgently. 

'  T  is  his  gift !  —  yes,  't  is  the  gift  of  a  redskin  to  love 
finery,  and  he  is  not  to  be  blamed.  This  is  an  extrornary 
garment,  too  ;  and  extrornary  things  get  up  extrornary  feel- 
in's.  I  think  this  will  do,  Judith  ;  for  the  Indian  heart  is 
hardly  to  be  found  in  all  America  that  can  withstand  colors 
like  these  and  glitter  like  that.  If  this  coat  was  ever  made 


160  THE  DEERSLAYER 

for  your  father,  you  've  come  honestly  by  the  taste  for  finery, 
you  have." 

"That  coat  was  never  made  for  father,"  answered  the 
girl,  quickly ;  "  it  is  much  too  long ;  while  father  is  short 
and  square." 

"  Cloth  was  plenty,  if  it  was,  and  glitter  cheap,"  answered 
Deerslayer,  with  his  silent,  joyous  laugh.  "  Sarpent,  this 
garment  was  made  for  a  man  of  your  size,  and  I  should 
like  to  see  it  on  your  shoulders." 

Chingachgook,  nothing  loath,  submitted  to  the  trial ; 
throwing  aside  his  blanket  to  deck  his  person  in  a  coat 
that  was  originally  intended  for  a  gentleman.  The  trans 
formation  was  ludicrous  ;  but  as  men  are  seldom  struck 
with  incongruities  in  their  own  appearance,  the  Delaware 
studied  this  change  in  a  common  glass,  with  grave  interest 
and  evident  satisfaction. 

"  Off  with  it,  Sarpent  —  off  with  it,"  resumed  the  inflexi 
ble  Deerslayer;  "such  garments  as  little  become  you  as 
they  would  become  me.  Your  gifts  are  for  paint,  and 
hawk's  feathers,  and  blankets,  and  wampum ;  and  mine 
are  for  doublets  of  skins,  tough  leggings,  and  sarviceable 
moccasins.  Lay  the  coat  down  on  the  blanket,  Sarpent, 
and  let  us  look  further  into  the  chist." 

The  tempting  garment,  one  surely  that  was  never  in 
tended  for  Hutter,  was  laid  aside,  and  the  examination 
proceeded.  A  beautiful  dress  of  brocade,  a  little  the  worse 
from  negligent  treatment,  followed  ;  and  this  time  open  ex 
clamations  of  delight  escaped  the  lips  of  Judith.  Much  as 
the  girl  had  been  addicted  to  dress,  never  before  had  she 
beheld  a  tissue  or  tints  to  equal  those  that  were  now  so  un 
expectedly  placed  before  her  eyes.  Following  the  Indian's 


THE  RANSOM  l6l 

example,  she  withdrew  into  her  own  room,  where  she  soon 
got  rid  of  her  own  neat  gown  of  linen,  and  stood  forth  in 
the  gay  tints  of  the  brocade,  which  happened  to  fit  her  well. 
When  she  returned,  both  Deerslayer  and  Chingachgook 
arose  in  surprise,  each  permitting  exclamations  of  wonder 
and  pleasure  to  escape  him,  in  a  way  so  unequivocal  as  to 
add  new  lustre  to  the  eyes  of  Judith,  by  flushing  her  cheeks 
with  a  glow  of  triumph.  Affecting,  however,  not  to  notice 
the  impression  she  had  made,  the  girl  seated  herself  with 
the  stateliness  of  a  queen,  desiring  that  the  chest  might  be 
looked  into  further. 

"  I  don't  know  a  better  way  to  treat  with  the  Mingos, 
gal,"  cried  Deerslayer,  "than  to  send  you  ashore  as  you 
be,  and  to  tell  'em  that  a  queen  has  arrived  among  'em ! 
They  '11  give  up  old  Hutter  and  Hurry,  and  Hetty  too,  at 
such  a  spectacle  !  " 

"  I  thought  your  tongue  too  honest  to  flatter,  Deer- 
slayer,"  returned  the  girl,  gratified  at  this  admiration  more 
than  she  would  have  cared  to  own.  "  One  of  the  chief 
reasons  of  my  respect  for  you  was  your  love  for  truth." 

"  And  'tis  truth,  and  solemn  truth,  Judith,  and  nothing 
else.  Never  did  eyes  of  mine  gaze  on  as  glorious  a  lookin' 
creatur'  as  you  be  yourself,  at  this  very  moment.  I  've  seen 
beauties  in  my  time,  too,  both  white  and  red,  and  them 
that  was  renowned  and  talked  of  far  and  near ;  but  never 
have  I  beheld  one  that  could  hold  any  comparison  with 
what  you  are  at  this  blessed  instant,  Judith, —  never." 

The  glance  of  delight  which  the  girl  bestowed  on  the 
frank-speaking  hunter  in  no  degree  lessened  the  effect  of 
her  charms  ;  and  as  the  humid  eyes  blended  with  it  a  look 
of  sensibility,  perhaps  Judith  never  appeared  more  truly 


1 62  THE  DEERSLAYER 

lovely  than  at  that  moment.  When  the  girl  had  returned 
to  her  room  to  divest  herself  of  her  finery,  the  two  men 
discussed  the  propriety  of  penetrating  any  further  into  the 
chest.  Judith  on  her  return  in  her  own  simple  linen  frock 
argued  that  if  they  knew  all  that  the  chest  held  they  could 
determine  better  what  course  to  take,  and  her  judgment  pre 
vailed.  They  came  now  to  a  second  piece  of  canvas,  be 
neath  which  the  articles  that  lay  uppermost  were  a  pair  of 
pistols,  curiously  inlaid  with  silver.  While  Chingachgook 
was  handling  these  instruments, — M  child  guns  "  as  he 
called  them, —  Deerslayer  had  opened  a  small  bag,  from 
which  he  was  taking,  one  by  one,  the  pieces  of  a  set  of 
chessmen.  They  were  of  ivory,  much  larger  than  com 
mon,  and  exquisitely  wrought.  Each  piece  represented 
the  character  or  thing  after  which  it  is  named,  —  the 
knights  being  mounted,  the  castles  stood  on  elephants, 
and  even  the  pawns  possessed  the  heads  and  busts  of  men. 
The  set  was  not  complete,  and  a  few  fractures  betrayed  .bad 
usage  ;  but  all  that  was  left  had  been  carefully  put  away  and 
preserved.  Even  Judith  expressed  wonder  as  these  novel 
objects  were  placed  before  her  eyes,  and  Chingachgook 
faMy  forgot  his  Indian  dignity  in  admiration  and  delight. 
The  latter  took  up  each  piece  and  examined  it  with  never- 
tiring  satisfaction,  pointing  out  to  the  girl  the  more  ingen 
ious  and  striking  portions  of  the  workmanship.  But  the 
elephants  gave  him  the  greatest  pleasure.  The  "  Hughs  !  " 
that  he  uttered  as  he  passed  his  fingers  over  their  trunks 
and  ears  and  tails  were  very  distinct ;  nor  did  he  fail  to 
note  the  pawns,  which  were  armed  as  archers.  This  exhibi 
tion  lasted  several  minutes,  during  which  time  Judith  and 
the  Indian  had  all  the  rapture  to  themselves.  Deerslayer 


THE  OPENING  OF  THE  CHEST 


THE  RANSOM  163 

sat  silent,  thoughtful,  and  even  gloomy,  though  his  eyes 
followed  each  movement  of  the  two  principal  actors,  not 
ing  every  new  peculiarity  about  the  pieces  as  they  were 
held  up  to  view.  Not  an  exclamation  of  pleasure  nor  a 
word  of  condemnation  passed  his  lips.  At  length  his  com 
panions  observed  his  silence,  and  then,  for  the  first  time 
since  the  chessmen  had  been  discovered,  did  he  speak. 

"Judith,"  he  asked  earnestly,  "did  your  parents  ever 
talk  to  you  of  religion  ?  " 

The  girl  colored,  but  replied  simply  and  with  sincerity. 

"  My  mother  did,  often,"  she  said  ;  "  my  father,  never. 
I  thought  it  made  my  mother  sorrowful  to  speak  of  our 
prayers  and  duties,  but  my  father  has  never  opened  his 
mouth  on  such  matters  before  or  since  her  death." 

"That  I  can  believe  —  that  I  can  believe.  He  has  no 
God  —  no  such  God  as  it  becomes  a  man  of  white  skin  to 
worship,  or  even  a  redskin.  Them  things  are  idols  !  " 

Judith  started,  and  for  a  moment  she  seemed  seriously 
hurt.  Then  she  reflected,  and  in  the  end  she  laughed. 

"And  you  think,  Deerslayer,  that  these  ivory  toys  are 
my  father's  gods  ?  I  have  heard  of  idols,  and  know  what 
they  are." 

"  Them  are  idols ! "  repeated  the  other  positively. 
"  Why  should  your  father  keep  'em  if  he  does  n't  worship 
'em  ?  " 

"  Would  he  keep  his  gods  in  a  bag,  and  locked  up  in  a 
chest  ?  No,  no,  Deerslayer  ;  my  poor  father  carries  his  god 
with  him  wherever  he  goes,  and  that  is  in  his  own  cravings. 
These  things  may  really  be  idols  —  I  think  they  are,  my 
self,  from  what  I  have  heard  and  read  of  idolatry,  but  they 
have  come  from  some  distant  country,  like  all  the  other 


1 64  THE  DEERSLAYER 

articles,  and  have  fallen  into  Thomas  Hutter's  hands  when 
he  was  a  sailor." 

"I'm  glad  of  it — I   am  downright  glad  to  hear  it, 

Judith.    The  old  man  is  of  my  color  and  nation,  and  I 

wish  to  sarve  him  ;  but  as  one  who  denied  all  his  gifts  in 

\  the  way  of  religion,  it  would  have  come  hard  to  do  so. 

\That  animal  seems  to  give  you  great  satisfaction,  Sarpent, 

though  it 's  an  idolatrous  head,  at  the  best." 

"It  is  an  elephant,"  interrupted  Judith  ;  "  I  've  often 
seen  pictures  of  such  animals  at  the  garrisons." 

"  Elephant,  or  no  elephant,  'tis  an  idol,"  returned  the 
hunter,  "  and  not  fit  to  remain  in  Christian  keeping." 

"  Good  for  Iroquois  !  "  said  Chingachgook,  parting  with 
one  of  the  castles  with  reluctance,  as  his  friend  took  it 
from  him  to  replace  it  in  the  bag.  "  Elephon  buy  whole 
tribe  —  buy  Delaware,  almost!  " 

"Aye,  that  it  would,  as  any  one  who  comprehends  red 
skin  natur'  must  know,"  answered  Deerslayer ;  "but  the 
man  that  passes  false  money,  Sarpent,  is  as  bad  as  he  who 
makes  it.  I  know  that  a  few  of  these  idols,  perhaps  one 
of  them  elephants,  would  go  far  towards  buying  Thomas 
Hutter's  liberty,  but  it  goes  agin  conscience  to  pass  such 
counterfeit  money.  Perhaps  no  Injin  tribe  hereaway  is 
downright  idolaters,  but  there  's  some  that  come  so  near 
it  that  white  gifts  ought  to  be  particular  about  encouraging 
them  in  their  mistake." 

"  After  all,"  said  Judith,  "  these  pieces  of  ivory  may  not 
be  idols  at  all.  I  remember,  now,  to  have  seen  one  of  the 
officers  at  the  garrison,  with  a  set  of  fox  and  geese  made 
in  some  such  a  design  as  these ;  and  here  is  something 
hard,  wrapped  in  cloth,  that  may  belong  to  your  idols." 


THE  RANSOM  165 

Deerslayer  took  the  bundle  the  girl  gave  him,  and,  un 
rolling  it,  he  found  the  board  within.  Like  the  pieces,  it 
was  large,  rich,  and  inlaid  with  ebony  and  ivory.  Putting 
the  whole  in  conjunction,  the  hunter,  though  not  without 
many  misgivings,  slowly  came  over  to  Judith's  opinion,  and 
finally  admitted  that  the  fancied  idols  must  be  merely  the 
curiously  carved  men  of  some  unknown  game. 
/JThis  discovery  of  the  uses  of  the  extraordinary  looking 
little  images  settled  the  affair  of  the  proposed  ransom.  It 
was  agreed  generally  that  nothing  could  be  more  likely  to 
tempt  the  Iroquois  than  the  elephants  in  particular.  Luckily, 
the  whole  of  the  castles  were  among  the  pieces,  and  these 
four  tower-bearing  animals  it  was  finally  determined  should 
be  the  ransom  offered.  The  remainder  of  the  men,  and, 
indeed,  all  the  rest  of  the  articles  in  the  chest,  were  to  be 
kept  out  of  view,  and  to  be  resorted  to  only  as  a  last  appeal. 
As  soon  as  these  preliminaries  were  settled,  everything  but 
what  was  intended  for  the  bribe  was  carefully  replaced  in 
the  chest,  all  the  covers  were  "  tucked  in  "  as  they  had  been 
found,  and  the  chest  was  closed  and  locked  once  more. 

CHAPTER  VII 

More  than  an  hour  had  been  consumed  by  Judith  and 
Deerslayer  in  settling  the  course  to  be  pursued,  and  in  re 
turning  everything  to  its  place  in  the  chest.  Deerslayer, 
indeed,  appeared  to  be  the  first  who  was  conscious  of  the 
time  that  was  being  thus  wasted,  and  to  call  the  attention 
of  his  companions  to  the  necessity  of  doing  something  to 
wards  putting  the  plan  of  ransoming  into  execution.  Chin- 
gachgook  had  remained  in  Hutter's  bedroom,  where  the 


1 66  THE  DEERSLAYER 

elephants  were  laid,  to  feast  his  eyes  with  the  images  of 
animals  so  wonderful  and  so  novel. 

"Well,  Judith,"  said  Deerslayer,  rising,  after  the  inter 
view  had  lasted  much  longer  than  even  he  himself  suspected, 
'  'tis  pleasant  convarsing  with  you,  and  settling  all  these 
matters,  but  duty  calls  us  another  way.    All  this  time, 
Hurry  and  your  father,  not  to  say  Hetty  " 

The  word  was  cut  short  in  the  speaker's  mouth,  for,  at 
that  critical  moment,  a  light  step  was  heard  on  the  platform 
or  courtyard,  a  human  figure  darkened  the  doorway,  and 
Hetty  herself  stood  before  him.  The  low  exclamation  that 
escaped  Deerslayer,  and  the  slight  scream  of  Judith,  were 
hardly  uttered,  when  an  Indian  youth,  between  the  ages  of 
fifteen  and  seventeen,  stood  beside  her.  These  two  en 
trances  had  been  made  with  moccasined  feet,  and  conse 
quently  almost  without  noise  ;  but,  unexpected  and  stealthy 
as  they  were,  they  had  not  the  effect  to  disturb  Deerslayer's 
self-possession.  His  first  measure  was  to  speak  rapidly  in 
Delaware  to  his  friend,  cautioning  him  to  keep  out  of  sight, 
while  he  stood  on  his  guard  ;  the  second  was  to  step  to  the 
door  to  ascertain  the  extent  of  the  danger.  No  one  else, 
however,  had  come  ;  and  a  simple  contrivance,  in  the  shape 
of  a  raft  that  lay  floating  at  the  side  of  the  ark,  at  once  ex 
plained  the  means  that  had  been  used  in  bringing  Hetty 
off.  Two  dead  and  dry,  and  consequently  buoyant,  logs  of 
pine  were  bound  together  with  pins  and  withes,  and  a  little 
platform  of  riven  chestnut  had  been  rudely  placed  on  their 
surfaces.  Here  Hetty  had  been  seated  on  a  billet  of  wood, 
while  the  young  Iroquois  had  rowed  the  primitive  and  slow- 
moving  but  perfectly  safe  craft  from  the  shore.  As  soon 
as  Deerslayer  had  taken  a  close  survey  of  this  raft,  and 


THE  RANSOM  167 

satisfied  himself  nothing  else  was  near,  he  shook  his  head, 
and  muttered,  in  his  soliloquizing  way,— 

"  This  comes  of  prying  into  another  man's  chist !  Had 
we  been  watchful  and  keen-eyed,  such  a  surprise  could 
never  have  happened  ;  and  getting  this  much  from  a  boy 
teaches  us  what  we  may  expect  when  the  old  warriors  set 
themselves  fairly  about  their  sarcumventions.  It  opens  the 
way,  hows'ever,  to  a  treaty  for  the  ransom,  and  I  will  hear 
what  Hetty  has  to  say." 

Judith,  as  soon  as  her  surprise  and  alarm  had  a  little 
abated,  discovered  a  proper  share  of  affectionate  joy  at 
the  return  of  her  sister.  At  Judith's  request  Hetty  took 
a  seat,  and  entered  into  an  account  of  her  adventures  since 
they  had  parted.  Her  narrative  was  clear  and  simple,  al 
though  told  with  an  utter  absence  of  suspicion  of  anything 
but  openness  and  friendliness  on  the  part  of  the  Indians. 
They  had  told  her  that  what  she  had  read  from  the  Good 
Book  was  right  and  that  they  would  gladly  come  out  to  the 
castle  to  hear  more  of  it.  But  first  Deerslayer  must  lend 
them  some  canoes  in  which  to  bring  the  prisoners  and 
their  women  to  the  castle  to  hear  this  word  read.  It  was 
to  make  this  proposal  that  they  had  sent  Hetty  out  on  the 
raft  with  the  boy. 

When  Hetty  had  finished  her  story  Deerslayer  turned 
to  Judith. 

tf  And  the  woods  are  full  of  the  vagabonds,  waiting  to 
know  what  is  to  be  the  upshot,"  he  said.  "We  compre 
hend  this  affair,  now,  Judith  —  but  I  '11  first  get  rid  of 
this  young  Canadian  bloodsucker,  and  then  we  '11  settle 
our  own  course.  Do  you  and  Hetty  leave  us  together, 
first  bringing  me  the  elephants,  which  the  Sarpent  is 


1 68  THE  DEERSLAYER 

admiring ;  for  't  will  never  do  to  let  this  loping  deer  be 
alone  a  minute,  or  he  '11  borrow  a  canoe  without  asking." 
Judith  did  as  desired,  first  bringing  the  pieces,  and  re 
tiring  with  her  sister  into  their  own  room.  Deerslayer  had 
acquired  some  knowledge  of  most  of  the  Indian  dialects  of 
that  region,  and  he  knew  enough  of  the  Iroquois  to  hold 
a  dialogue  in  the  language.  Beckoning  to  the  lad,  there 
fore,  he  caused  him  to  take  a  seat  on  the  chest,  when  he 
placed  two  of  the  castles  suddenly  before  him.  Up  to  that 
moment,  this  youthful  savage  had  not  expressed  a  single 
intelligible  emotion  or  fancy.  There  were  many  things  in 
and  about  the  place  that  were  novelties  to  him,  but  he  had 
maintained  his  self-command  with  philosophical  composure. 
It  is  true,  Deerslayer  had  detected  his  dark  eye  scanning 
the  defenses  and  the  arms,  but  the  scrutiny  had  been  made 
with  such  an  air  of  innocence,  in  such  a  gaping,  indolent, 
boyish  manner,  that  no  one  but  a  man  who  had  himself 
been  taught  in  a  similar  school  would  have  even  suspected 
his  object.  The  instant,  however,  the  eyes  of  the  savage 
fell  upon  the  wrought  ivory,  and  the  images  of  the  wonder 
ful,  unknown  beasts,  surprise  and  admiration  got  the  mas 
tery  of  him,  and  he  permitted  an  exclamation  of  rapture  to 
escape  him.  Then  he  checked  himself,  like  one  who  had 
been  guilty  of  an  indecorum.  After  this,  his  eyes  ceased 
to  wander,  but  became  riveted  on  the  elephants,  one  of 
which,  after  a  short  hesitation,  he  even  presumed  to 
handle.  Deerslayer  did  not  interrupt  him  for  quite  ten 
minutes ;  knowing  that  the  lad  was  taking  such  note  of 
the  curiosities  as  would  enable  him  to  give  the  most  mi 
nute  and  accurate  description  of  their  appearance  to  his 
seniors,  on  his  return.  When  he  thought  sufficient  time 


THE  RANSOM  169 

had  been  allowed  to  produce  the  desired  effect,  the  hunter 
laid  a  finger  on  the  naked  knee  of  the  youth,  and  drew  his 
attention  to  himself. 

"  Listen,"  he  said  ;  "  I  want  to  talk  with  my  young  friend 
from  the  Canadas.  Let  him  forget  that  wonder  for  a  min 
ute.  Can  you  tell  me,  boy,  what  your  chiefs  intend  to  do 
with  these  captyves,  or  haven't  they  yet  made  up  their 
minds  ?  " 

The  lad  looked  a  moment  at  the  hunter  with  a  little  sur 
prise  ;  then  he  coolly  put  the  end  of  his  forefinger  on  his 
own  head,  just  above  the  left  ear,  and  passed  it  round  his 
crown,  with  an  accuracy  and  readiness  that  showed  how 
well  he  had  been  drilled  in  the  peculiar  art  of  his  race. 

"  When  ?  "  demanded  Deerslayer.  "And  why  not  take 
them  to  your  wigwams  ?  " 

"  Road  too  long,  and  full  of  palefaces.  Wigwam  full, 
and  scalps  sell  high.  Small  scalp,  much  gold." 

"Well,  that  explains  it  —  yes,  that  does  explain  it. 
There  's  no  need  of  being  any  plainer.  Now,  you  know, 
lad,  that  the  oldest  of  your  prisoners  is  the  father  of 
these  two  young  women,  and  the  other  is  the  suitor  of 
one  of  them.  The  gals  nat'rally  wish  to  save  the  scalps 
of  such  fri'nds,  and  they  will  give  them  two  ivory 
creatur's  as  ransom  ;  one  for  each  scalp.  Go  back  and 
tell  this  to  your  chiefs,  and  bring  me  the  answer  before 
the  sun  sets." 

The  boy  entered  zealously  into  this  project,  evidently 
desiring  greatly  to  have  such  a  treasure  in  his  tribe,  and 
Deerslayer  was  satisfied  with  the  impression  he  had  made. 
It  is  true,  the  lad  proposed  to  carry  one  of  the  elephants 
with  him,  as  a  specimen  of  the  other,  but  to  this  his  brother 


THE  DEERSLAYER 

negotiator  was  too  sagacious  to  consent,  well  knowing  that 
it  might  never  reach  its  destination  if  confided  to  such 
hands.  This  little  difficulty  was  soon  arranged,  and  the 
boy  prepared  to  depart.  As  he  stood  on  the  platform 
ready  to  step  aboard  of  the  raft,  he  hesitated,  and  turned 
short  with  a  proposal  to  borrow  a  canoe,  as  the  means 
most  likely  to  shorten  the  negotiation.  Deerslayer  quietly 
refused  the  request,  and,  after  lingering  a  little  longer, 
the  boy  rowed  slowly  away  from  the  castle,  taking  the 
direction  of  a  thicket  on  the  shore,  that  lay  less  than 
half  a  mile  distant.  Deerslayer  seated  himself  on  a 
stool,  and  watched  the  progress  of  the  ambassador; 
sometimes  closely  scanning  the  whole  line  of  shore,  as 
far  as  eye  could  reach,  and  then  placing  an  elbow  on 
a  knee,  he  remained  a  long  time  with  his  chin  resting 
on  the  hand. 

During  the  interview  between  Deerslayer  and  the  lad, 
a  different  scene  took  place  in  the  adjoining  room.  Hetty 
had  inquired  for  the  Delaware  and  had  gone  to  speak  to 
him.  The  reception  which  Chingachgook  gave  his  visitor 
was  respectful  and  gentle.  He  understood  her  character ; 
and,  no  doubt,  his  disposition  to  be  kind  to  such  a  being 
was  increased  by  the  hope  of  learning  some  tidings  of  his 
betrothed.  As  soon  as  the  girl  entered  she  took  a  seat, 
and  invited  the  Indian  to  place  himself  near  her. 

"You  are  Chingachgook  —  the  Great  Serpent  of  the 
Delawares,  aren't  you?"  the  girl  commenced.  "You 
mtist  be ;  for  there  is  no  other  red-man  here,  and  she 
thought  Chingachgook  would  come." 

"  Chin-gach-gook,"  pronouncing  the  name  slowly,  and 
dwelling  on  each  syllable ;  "  Great  Serpent,  Yengeese 


THE  RANSOM  171 

tongue.  Did  any  tongue  name  Chingachgook,  Drooping- 
Lily  ?  "  for  so  the  chief  had  named  poor  Hetty.  "Was 
his  name  sung  by  a  little  bird  among  the  Iroquois  ?  " 

"  Chin-gach-gook,"  repeated  Hetty,  in  the  same  deliber 
ate  manner.  "  Yes,  so  Hist  called  it,  and  you  must  be  the 
chief." 

"  Wah-ta-Wah,"  added  the  Delaware,  "  Wah-ta-Wah,  or 
Hist-oh-Hist." 

"You  make  it  sound  differently  from  me.  But  never 
mind ;  I  did  hear  the  bird  you  speak  of  sing,  Great 
Serpent." 

"  Will  my  sister  say  words  of  song  ?  What  she  sing 
most  —  how  she  look  —  often  she  laugh  ?  " 

"  She  sang  Chin-gach-gook  oftener  than  anything  else  ; 
and  she  told  me  to  say,  in  a  very  low  voice,  that  you  mustn't 
trust  the  Iroquois  in  anything.  They  are  more  artful  than 
any  Indians  she  knows.  Then  she  says  that  there  is  a 
large  bright  star  that  comes  over  the  hill,  about  an  hour 
after  dark," — Hist  had  pointed  out  the  planet  Jupiter, 
without  knowing  it, — "and  just  as  that  star  comes  in 
sight,  she  will  be  on  the  point  where  I  landed  last  night, 
and  that  you  must  come  for  her,  in  a  canoe." 

"  Good  !  Chingachgook  understand  well  enough,  now, 
but  he  understand  better  if  my  sister  sing  to  him  agin." 

Hetty  repeated  her  words,  more  fully  explaining  what 
star  was  meant,  and  mentioning  the  part  of  the  point 
where  he  was  to  venture  ashore.  Chingachgook  listened 
intently,  but  before  there  was  time  for  him  to  ask  more 
news  of  his  betrothed,  the  voice  of  Deerslayer  was  heard 
calling  on  his  friend,  in  the  outer  room.  At  this  summons 
the  Serpent  arose  to  obey,  and  Hetty  joined  her  sister. 


172  THE  DEERSLAYER 

CHAPTER  VIII 

Deerslayer  had  summoned  his  friend  that  they  might 
have  a  sort  of  council  of  war,  in  which  they  could  settle 
their  future  course.  In  the  dialogue  that  followed,  the 
parties  mutually  made  each  other  acquainted  with  what 
had  passed  in  their  several  interviews.  Chingachgook  was 
told  the  history  of  the  treaty  about  the  ransom  ;  and  Deer- 
slayer  heard  the  whole  of  Hetty's  communications.  The 
latter  listened  with  generous  interest  to  his  friend's  hopes, 
and  promised  cheerfully  all  the  assistance  he  could  lend. 

1  'T  is  our  main  arr'nd,  Sarpent,  as  you  know ;  this 
battling  for  the  castle  and  old  Hutter's  darters  coming  in 
as  a  sort  of  accident.  Yes  —  yes  —  I  '11  be  actyve  in 
helping  little  Hist,  who  's  not  only  one  of  the  best  and 
handsomest  maidens  of  the  tribe,  but  the  very  best  and 
handsomest.  Now  let  us  calculate  our  movements  a  little, 
for  we  shall  soon  either  have  a  truce  and  a  peace,  or  we 
shall  come  to  an  actyve  and  bloody  war.  You  see  the 
vagabonds  can  make  logs  sarve  their  turn,  as  well  as  the 
best  raftsmen  on  the  rivers ;  and  it  would  be  no  great 
explite  for  them  to  invade  us  in  a  body.  I  've  been  think 
ing  of  the  wisdom  of  putting  all  old  Tom's  stores  into  the 
ark,  of  barring  and  locking  up  the  castle,  and  of  taking  to 
the  ark  altogether.  That  is  movable,  and  by  keeping  the 
sail  up,  and  shifting  places,  we  might  worry  through  a 
great  many  nights  without  them  Canada  wolves  finding 
a  way  into  our  sheep  fold." 

Chingachgook  listened  to  this  plan  with  approbation. 
Did  the  negotiation  fail  there  was  now  little  hope  that  the 
night  would  pass  without  an  assault ;  and  the  enemy  had 


THE  RANSOM  173 

sagacity  enough  to  understand  that,  in  carrying  the  castle, 
they  would  probably  become  masters  of  all  it  contained, 
the  offered  ransom  included,  and  still  retain  the  advantages 
they  had  hitherto  gained.  Some  precaution  of  the  sort 
appeared  to  be  absolutely  necessary  ;  for  now  the  numbers 
of  the  Iroquois  were  known,  a  night  attack  could  scarcely 
be  successfully  met.  It  would  be  impossible  to  prevent 
the  enemy  from  getting  possession  of  the  canoes  and  the 
ark,  and  the  latter  itself  would  be  a  hold  in  which  the 
assailants  would  be  as  effectually  protected  against  bullets 
as  were  those  in  the  building.  This  decision  was  no  sooner 
come  to  than  it  was  communicated  to  Judith.  The  girl  had 
no  serious  objection  to  make,  and  all  four  set  about  the 
measures  necessary  to  carrying  the  plan  into  execution. 
The  reader  will  readily  understand  that  Floating  Tom's 
worldly  goods  were  of  no  great  amount.  A  couple  of  beds, 
some  wearing  apparel,  the  arms  and  ammunition,  a  few 
cooking  utensils,  with  the  mysterious  but  half-examined 
chest,  formed  the  principal  items.  These  were  all  soon 
removed,  the  ark  having  been  hauled  on  the  eastern  side 
of  the  building,  so  that  the  transfer  could  be  made  without 
being  seen  from  the  shore.  It  was  thought  unnecessary 
to  disturb  the  heavier  and  coarser  articles  of  furniture,  as 
they  were  not  required  in  the  ark,  and  were  of  but  little 
value  in  themselves.  As  great  caution  was  necessary  in 
removing  the  different  objects,  most  of  which  were  passed 
out  of  a  window  with  a  view  to  conceal  what  was  going  on, 
it  required  two  or  three  hours  before  all  could  be  effected. 
By  the  expiration  of  that  time  the  raft  made  its  appearance, 
moving  from  the  shore.  Deerslayer  immediately  had  re 
course  to  the  glass,  by  the  aid  of  which  he  perceived  that 


174  THE  DEERSLAYER 

two  warriors  were  on  it,  though  they  appeared  to  be  un 
armed.  The  progress  of  the  raft  was  slow,  a  circumstance 
that  formed  one  of  the  great  advantages  that  would  be. 
possessed  by  the  scow  in  any  future  collision  between 
them,  the  movements  of  the  latter  being  comparatively 
swift  and  light.  As  there  was  time  to  make  the  dispo 
sitions  for  the  reception  of  the  two  dangerous  visitors, 
everything  was  prepared  for  them  long  before  they  had 
got  near  enough  to  be  hailed.  The  Serpent  and  the  girls 
retired  into  the  building,  where  the  former  stood  near  the 
door,  well  provided  with  rifles ;  while  Judith  watched  the 
proceedings  without  through  a  loop.  As  for  Deerslayer,  he 
had  brought  a  stool  to  the  edge  of  the  platform,  at  the 
point  towards  which  the  raft  was  advancing,  and  taken  his 
seat,  with  his  rifle  leaning  carelessly  between  his  legs. 

As  the  raft  drew  nearer,  every  means  possessed  by  the 
party  in  the  castle  was  resorted  to,  in  order  to  ascertain  if 
their  visitors  had  any  firearms.  Neither  Deerslayer  nor 
Chingachgook  could  discover  any  ;  but  Judith,  unwilling 
to  trust  to  simple  eyesight,  thrust  the  glass  through  the 
loop,  and  directed  it  towards  the  hemlock  boughs  that  lay 
between  the  two  logs  of  the  raft,  forming  a  sort  of  floor 
ing,  as  well  as  a  seat  for  the  use  of  the  rowers.  When  the 
heavy-moving  craft  was  within  fifty  feet  of  him,  Deerslayer 
hailed  the  Hurons,  directing  them  to  cease  rowing,  it  not 
being  his  intention  to  permit  them  to  land.  Compliance, 
of  course,  was  necessary,  and  the  two  grim-looking  warriors 
instantly  quitted  their  seats,  though  the  raft  continued 
slowly  to  approach,  until  it  had  driven  in  much  nearer  to 
the  platform. 

"Are  ye  chiefs?"  demanded  Deerslayer,  with  dignity. 


THE  RANSOM  175 

"  Are  ye  chiefs  ?  —  or  have  the  Mingos  sent  me  warriors 
without  names  on  such  an  arr'nd  ?  If  so,  the  sooner  ye 
go  back  the  sooner  the  one  will  be  likely  to  come  that  a 
warrior  can  talk  with." 

"  Hugh !  "  exclaimed  the  elder  of  the  two  on  the  raft, 
rolling  his  glowing  eyes  over  the  different  objects  that 
were  visible  in  and  about  the  castle,  with  a  keenness  that 
showed  how  little  escaped  him.  "  My  brother  is  very 
proud,  but  Rivenoak  is  a  name  to  make  a  Delaware  turn 
pale." 

"  That's  true,  or  it's  a  lie,  Rivenoak,  as  it  may  be  ;  but 
I  am  not  likely  to  turn  pale,  seeing  that  I  was  born  pale. 
What's  your  arr'nd,  and  why  do  you  come  among  light 
bark  canoes  on  logs  that  are  not  even  dug  out  ?  " 

u  The  Iroquois  are  not  ducks,  to  walk  on  water !  Let 
the  palefaces  give  them  a  canoe,  and  they  '11  come  in  a 
canoe." 

"  That 's  more  rational,  than  likely  to  come  to  pass. 
We  have  but  four  canoes,  and  being  four  persons,  that 's 
only  one  for  each  of  us.  You  are  welcome,  Iroquois,  on 
your  logs !  " 

"  Thanks  —  my  young  paleface  warrior  —  he  has  got  a 
name  —  how  do  the  chiefs  call  him  ?  " 

Deerslayer  hesitated  a  moment,  his  pride  and  honesty 
struggling  with  his  sense  of  what  modesty  required.  Then 
he  smiled,  muttered  between  his  teeth,  and  looking  up,  he 
said,  — 

"  Mingo,  like  all  who  are  young  and  actyve,  I  've  been 
known  by  different  names,  at  different  times.  One  of 
your  warriors,  whose  spirit  started  for  the  happy-grounds 
of  your  people  as  lately  as  yesterday  morning,  thought  I 


176  THE  DEERSLAYER 

desarved  to  be  known  by  the  name  of  Hawkeye  ;  and  this 
because  my  sight  happened  to  be  quicker  than  his  own, 
when  it  got  to  be  life  or  death  atween  us." 

Chingachgook,  who  was  attentively  listening  to  all  that 
passed,  heard  and  understood  that  this  was  what  his  friend 
in  his  modesty  had  refrained  from  telling  him,  and  on  a 
future  occasion  he  questioned  him  more  closely  concerning 
the  matter.  When  he  had  got  the  whole  truth,  he  did  not 
fail  to  communicate  it  to  the  tribe,  from  which  time  the 
young  hunter  was  universally  known  among  the  Delawares 
by  an  appellation  so  honorably  earned.  But  that  is  after 
the  period  of  our  story. 

"  My  brother,  Hawkeye,  has  sent  a  message  to  the 
Hurons,"  resumed  Rivenoak,  "and  it  has  made  their 
hearts  very  glad.  They  hear  he  has  images  of  beasts  with 
two  tails  !  Will  he  show  them  to  his  friends  ?  " 

"  Inimies  would  be  truer,"  returned  Deerslayer ;  "but 
sound  is  n't  sense,  and  does  little  harm.  Here  is  one  of 
the  images  ;  I  toss  it  to  you  under  faith  of  treaties.  If  it 's 
not  returned,  the  rifle  will  settle  the  p'int  atween  us." 

The  Iroquois  acquiesced  in  the  conditions,  and  the  little 
piece  of  ivory  was  soon  successfully  transferred  from  one 
hand  to  the  other  ;  and  then  followed  another  scene  on  the 
raft,  in  which  astonishment  and  delight  got  the  mastery 
of  Indian  stoicism.  For  a  few  minutes  the  two  grim  old 
warriors  apparently  lost  the  consciousness  of  their  situation 
in  the  intense  scrutiny  they  bestowed  on  a  material  so  fine, 
work  so  highly  wrought,  and  an  animal  so  extraordinary. 
The  lip  of  the  moose  is,  perhaps,  the  nearest  approach  to 
the  trunk  of  the  elephant  that  is  to  be  found  in  the 
American  forest ;  but  this  resemblance  was  far  from  being 


THE  RANSOM  177 

sufficiently  striking  to  bring  the  new  creature  within  the 
range  of  their  habits  and  ideas,  and  the  more  they  studied 
the  image  the  greater  was  their  astonishment.  Nor  did 
these  children  of  the  forest  mistake  the  structure  on  the 
back  of  the  elephant  for  a  part  of  the  animal.  They  were 
familiar  with  horses  and  oxen,  and  had  seen  towers  in  the 
Canadas,  and  found  nothing  surprising  in  creatures  of 
burden.  Still,  by  a  very  natural  association,  they  supposed 
the  carving  meant  to  represent  that  the  animal  they  saw 
was  of  a  strength  sufficient  to  carry  a  fort  on  its  back ;  a 
circumstance  that  in  no  degree  lessened  their  wonder. 

"  Has  my  paleface  brother  any  more  such  beasts?  "  at 
last  the  senior  of  the  Iroquois  asked,  in  a  sort  of  petition 
ing  manner. 

"There's  more  where  these  came  from,  Mingo,"  was 
the  answer;  "one  is  enough,  however,  to  buy  off  fifty 
scalps." 

"  One  of  my  prisoners  is  a  great  warrior  —  tall  as  a  pine 
—  strong  as  the  moose  —  active  as  a  deer  —  fierce  as  the 
panther.  Some  day  he  '11  be  a  great  chief,  and  lead  the 
army  of  King  George  !  " 

"Tut  —  tut  —  Mingo;  Hurry  Harry  is  Hurry  Harry, 
and  you  '11  never  make  more  than  a  corporal  of  him,  if  you 
do  that.  He  's  tall  enough,  of  a  sartainty ;  but  that 's  of 
no  use,  as  he  only  hits  his  head  agin  the  branches  as  he 
goes  through  the  forest.  He  's  strong,  too  ;  but  a  strong 
body  is  n't  a  strong  head,  and  the  king's  generals  are  not 
chosen  for  their  sinews.  He  's  swift,  if  you  will,  but  a  rifle 
bullet  is  swifter  ;  and  as  for  f 'erceness,  it 's  no  great  ricom- 
mend  to  a  soldier ;  they  that  think  they  feel  the  stoutest 
often  givin'  out  at  the  pinch.  No  —  no  —  you  '11  never 


178  THE  DEERSLAYER 

make  Hurry's  scalp  pass  for  more  than  a  good  head  of 
curly  hair,  and  a  rattlepate  beneath  it !  " 

"  My  old  prisoner  very  wise  —  king  of  the  lake  —  great 
warrior,  wise  counselor  !  " 

"  Well,  there's  them  that  might  gainsay  all  this,  too, 
Mingo.  A  very  wise  man  would  n't  be  apt  to  be  taken  in 
so  foolish  a  manner  as  befell  Master  Hutter ;  and  if  he 
gives  good  counsel,  he  must  have  listened  to  very  bad  in 
that  affair.  There  's  only  one  king  of  this  lake,  and  he  's 
a  long  way  off,  and  is  n't  likely  ever  to  see  it.  Floating 
Tom  is  some  such  king  of  this  region,  as  the  wolf  that 
prowls  through  the  woods  is  king  of  the.  forest.  A  beast 
with  two  tails  is  well  worth  two  such  scalps  !  " 

"  But  my  brother  has  another  beast.  He  will  give  two," 
holding  up  as  many  fingers,  "  for  old  father." 

"  Floating  Tom  is  no  father  of  mine,  but  he  '11  fare  none 
the  worse  for  that.  As  for  giving  two  beasts  for  his  scalp, 
and  each  beast  with  two  tails,  it  is  quite  beyond  reason. 
Think  yourself  well  off,  Mingo,  if  you  make  a  much  worse 
trade." 

By  this  time  the  self-command  of  Rivenoak  had  got  the 
better  of  his  wonder,  and  he  began  to  fall  back  on  his  usual 
habits  of  cunning,  in  order  to  drive  the  best  bargain  he 
could.  It  would  be  useless  to  relate  more  than  the  sub 
stance  of  the  desultory  dialogue  that  followed,  in  which  the 
Indian  manifested  no  little  management,  in  endeavoring 
to  recover  the  ground  lost  under  the  influence  of  surprise. 
He  even  affected  to  doubt  whether  any  original  for  the 
image  of  the  beast  existed,  and  asserted  that  the  oldest 
Indian  had  never  heard  a  tradition  of  any  such  animal.  As 
is  not  uncommon  on  such  occasions,  one  of  the  parties  got 


THE  RANSOM  179 

a  little  warm  in  the  course  of  the  discussion ;  for  Deer- 
slayer  met  all  the  arguments  and  prevarications  of  his 
subtle  opponent  with  his  own  cool  directness  of  manner 
and  unmoved  love  of  truth.  What  an  elephant  was  he 
knew  little  better  than  the  savage  ;  but  he  perfectly  under 
stood  that  the  carved  pieces  of  ivory  must  have  some  such 
value  in  the  eyes  of  an  Iroquois  as  a  bag  of  gold,  or  a  pack 
age  of  beaver-skins,  would  in  those  of  a  trader.  Under  the 
circumstances,  therefore,  he  felt  it  to  be  prudent  not  to  con 
cede  too  much  at  first,  —  since  there  existed  a  nearly  un 
conquerable  obstacle  to  making  the  transfers,  even  after  the 
contracting  parties  had  actually  agreed  upon  the  terms. 
Keeping  this  difficulty  in  view,  he  held  the  extra  chessmen 
in  reserve  as  a  means  of  smoothing  any  difficulty  in  the 
moment  of  need. 

At  length  the  savage  pretended  that  further  negotiation 
was  useless,  since  he  could  not  be  so  unjust  to  his  tribe  as 
to  part  with  the  honor  and  emoluments  of  two  excellent, 
full-grown  male  scalps,  for  a  consideration  so  trifling  as  a 
toy  like  that  he  had  seen  —  and  he  prepared  to  take  his 
departure.  Both  parties  now  felt  as  men  are  wont  to  feel, 
when  a  bargain  that  each  is  anxious  to  conclude  is  on  the 
eve  of  being  broken  off  in  consequence  of  too  much  perti 
nacity  in  the  way  of  management.  The  effect  of  the  dis 
appointment  was  very  different,  however,  on  the  respective 
individuals.  Deerslayer  was  mortified,  and  filled  with  re 
gret,  —  for  he  not  only  felt  for  the  prisoners,  but  he  also 
felt  deeply  for  the  two  girls.  The  conclusion  of  the  treaty, 
therefore,  left  him  melancholy  and  full  of  regret.  With 
the  savage,  his  defeat  produced  the  desire  of  revenge.  In 
a  moment  of  excitement,  he  loudly  announced  his  intention 


l8o  THE  DEERSLAYER 

to  say  no  more  ;  and  he  felt  equally  enraged  with  himself 
and  with  his  cool  opponent,  that  he  had  permitted  a  pale 
face  to  manifest  more  indifference  and  self-command  than 
an  Indian  chief.  When  he  began  to  urge  his  raft  away 
from  the  platform,  his  countenance  lowered,  and  his  eye 
glowed  even  while  he  affected  a  smile  of  amity  and  a 
gesture  of  courtesy  at  parting. 

It  took  some  little  time  to  start  the  raft,  and  while  this 
was  doing  by  the  silent  Indian,  Rivenoak  stalked  over  the 
hemlock  boughs  that  lay  between  the  logs,  in  sullen  feroc 
ity,  eying  keenly  the  while  the  hut,  the  platform,  and  the 
person  of  his  late  disputant.  Once  he  spoke  in  low,  quick 
terms  to  his  companion,  and  he  stirred  the  boughs  with 
his  feet,  like  an  animal  that  is  restive.  At  that  moment 
the  watchfulness  of  Deerslayer  had  a  little  abated,  for  he 
sat  musing  on  the  means  of  renewing  the  negotiation 
without  giving  too  much  advantage  to  the  other  side.  It 
was,  perhaps,  fortunate  for  him  that  the  keen  and  bright 
eyes  of  Judith  were  as  vigilant  as  ever.  At  the  instant 
when  the  young  man  was  least  on  his  guard,  and  his 
enemy  was  the  most  on  the  alert,  she  called  out  in  a 
warning  voice  to  the  former,  most  opportunely  giving 
the  alarm. 

"Be  on  your  guard,  Deerslayer !  "  the  girl  cried  ;  "  I 
see  rifles,  with  the  glass,  beneath  the  hemlock  brush,  and 
the  Iroquois  is  loosening  them  with  his  feet !  " 

It  was  evident,  by  the  sudden  manner  in  which  his  feet 
ceased  their  treacherous  occupation,  and  in  which  the 
countenance  of  Rivenoak  changed  from  sullen  ferocity  to 
a  smile  of  courtesy,  that  the  call  of  the  girl  was  understood. 
Signing  to  his  companion  to  cease  his  efforts  to  set  the 


THE  RANSOM  l8l 

logs  in  motion,  he  advanced  to  the  end  of  the  raft  which 
was  nearest  to  the  platform,  and  spoke. 

"  Why  should  Rivenoak  and  his  brother  leave  any  cloud 
between  them  ?  "  he  said.  "  They  are  both  wise,  both 
brave,  and  both  generous ;  they  ought  to  part  friends. 
One  beast  shall  be  the  price  of  one  prisoner." 

"  And,  Mingo,"  answered  the  other,  delighted  to  renew 
the  negotiation  on  almost  any  terms,  and  determined  to 
clench  the  bargain  if  possible  by  a  little  extra  liberality, 
"  you  '11  see  that  a  paleface  knows  how  to  pay  a  full  price, 
when  he  trades  with  an  open  heart  and  an  open  hand. 
Keep  the  beast  that  you  had  forgotten  to  give  back  to  me 
as  you  were  about  to  start,  and  which  I  forgot  to  ask  for  on 
account  of  consarn  at  parting  in  anger.  Show  it  to  your 
chiefs.  When  you  bring  us  our  fri'nds  two  more  shall  be 
added  to  it  —  and"- — hesitating  a  moment  in  distrust  of 
the  expediency  of  so  great  a  concession,  then  deciding  in 
its  favor—  "and,  if  we  see  them  afore  the  sun  sets,  we 
may  find  a  fourth  to  make  up  an  even  number." 

This  settled  the  matter.  Every  gleam  of  discontent  van 
ished  from  the  dark  countenance  of  the  Iroquois.  The 
piece  already  in  his  possession  was  again  examined,  and 
an  ejaculation  of  pleasure  showed  how  much  he  was 
pleased  with  this  termination  of  the  affair.  After  repeat 
ing  the  terms  of  agreement,  the  two  Indians  finally  took 
their  departure,  moving  slowly  towards  the  shore. 

"  Can  any  faith  be  put  in  such  wretches  ?  "  asked  Judith, 
when  she  and  Hetty  had  come  out  on  the  platform,  and 
were  standing  at  the  side  of  Deerslayer  watching  the  dull 
movement  of  the  logs.  "Will  they  not  rather  keep  the 
toy  they  have,  and  send  us  off  some  bloody  proofs  of  their 


1 82  THE  DEERSLAYER 

getting  the  better  of  us  in  cunning,  by  way  of  boasting  ? 
I  've  heard  of  acts  as  bad  as  this." 

"No  doubt,  Judith;  no  manner  of  doubt,  if  it  wasn't 
for  Indian  natur'.  But  I  'm  no  judge  of  a  redskin,  if  that 
two-tailed  beast  does  n't  set  the  whole  tribe  in  some  such 
stir  as  a  stick  raises  in  a  beehive  !  Now,  there  's  the  Sar- 
pent ;  a  man  with  narves  like  flint,  and  no  more  cur'osity 
in  every-day  consarns  than  is  befitting  prudence.  Why,  he 
was  so  overcome  with  the  sight  of  the  creatur',  carved  as 
it  is  in  bone,  that  I  felt  ashamed  for  him!  That's  just 
their  gifts,  however,  and  one  can't  well  quarrel  with  a  man 
for  his  gifts,  when  they. are  lawful.  Chingachgook  will 
soon  get  over  his  weakness,  and  remember  that  he  's  a 
chief,  and  that  he  comes  of  a  great  stock,  and  has  a  re 
nowned  name  to  support  and  uphold;  but,  as  for  yonder 
scamps,  there  '11  be  no  peace  among  'em  until  they  think 
they  've  got  possession  of  everything  of  the  natur'  of  that 
bit  of  carved  bone  that 's  to  be  found  among  Thomas 
Hutter's  stores  !  " 

The  prospects  of  success  were  now  so  encouraging  as 
to  raise  the  spirits  of  all  in  the  castle,  though  a  due  watch 
fulness  on  the  movements  of  the  enemy  was  maintained. 
Hour  passed  after  hour,  notwithstanding,  and  the  sun  had 
once  more  begun  to  fall  towards  the  summits  of  the  west 
ern  hills,  and  yet  no  signs  were  seen  of  the  return  of  the 
raft.  By  dint  of  sweeping  the  shore  with  the  glass,  Deer- 
slayer  at  length  discovered  a  place  in  the  dense  and  dark 
woods,  where,  he  entertained  no  doubt,  the  Iroquois  were 
assembled  in  considerable  numbers.  It  was  near  the  thicket 
whence  the  raft  had  issued,  and  a  little  rill  that  trickled 
into  the  lake  announced  the  vicinity  of  a  spring.  Here, 


THE  RANSOM  183 

then,  the  savages  were  probably  holding  their  consultation, 
and  the  decision  was  to  be  made  that  went  to  settle  the 
question  of  life  or  death  for  the  prisoners. 

The  result  justified  Deerslayer'  s  conjecture.  Not  long 
before  the  sun  had  finally  disappeared,  the  two  logs  were 
seen  coming  out  of  the  thicket  again ;  and,  as  they  drew 
near,  Judith  announced  that  her  father  and  Hurry,  both  of 
them  pinioned,  lay  on  the  bushes  in  the  centre.  Even 
after  the  conditions  were  so  well  understood,  and  matters 
had  proceeded  so  far,  the  actual  transfer  of  the  prisoners 
was  not  a  duty  to  be  executed  without  difficulty.  The 
Iroquois  were  compelled  to  place  great  reliance  on  the 
good  faith  of  their  foes,  though  it  was  reluctantly  given, 
and  was  yielded  to  necessity  rather  than  to  confidence.  It 
is  probable  the  arrangement  never  could  have  been  com 
pleted,  had  not  the  honest  countenance  and  manner  of 
Deerslayer  wrought  their  usual  effect  on  Rivenoak. 

"  My  brother  knows  I  put  faith  in  him!'  said  the  latter 
as  he  advanced  with  Hutter,  whose  legs  had  been  released 
to  enable  the  old  man  to  ascend  to  the  platform.  "  One 
scalp  —  one  more  beast." 

"  Stop,  Mingo,"  interrupted  the  hunter,  "  keep  your 
prisoner  a  moment.  I  have  to  go  and  seek  the  means 
of  payment." 

This  errand  was,  however,  in  part  an  excuse.  Deer- 
slayer  left  the  platform,  and  entering  the  house,  he  directed 
Judith  to  collect  all  the  arms,  and  to  conceal  them  in  her 
own  room.  He  then  spoke  earnestly  to  the  Delaware,  who 
stood  on  guard  as  before,  near  the  entrance  of  the  build 
ing,  put  the  three  remaining  castles  in  his  pocket,  and 
returned. 


1 84  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"You  are  welcome  back  to  your  old  abode,  Master  Hut- 
ter,"  said  Deerslayer,  as  he  helped  the  other  up  on  the 
platform,  passing  into  the  hand  of  Rivenoak,  at  the  same 
time,  another  of  the  castles.  "  You  '11  find  your  darters 
right  glad  to  see  you." 

Here  the  hunter  stopped  speaking  and  broke  out  into 
a  hearty  fit  of  his  silent  and  peculiar  laughter.  Hurry's 
legs  were  just  released  and  he  had  been  placed  on  his  feet. 
So  tightly  had  the  ligatures  been  drawn,  that  the  use  of 
his  limbs  was  not  immediately  recovered,  and  the  young 
giant  presented,  in  good  sooth,  a  very  helpless  and  a 
somewhat  ludicrous  picture. 

"  You  look  like  a  girdled  pine  in  a  clearin',  Hurry 
Harry,  that  is  rocking  in  a  gale,"  said  Deerslayer. 

"  Harkee,  Deerslayer,"  returned  the  other  fiercely  ;  "it 
will  be  prudent  for  you  to  deal  less  in  mirth  and  more  in 
friendship  on  this  occasion.  Act  like  a  Christian,  for  once, 
and  not  like  a  laughing  gal  in  a  country  school  when  the 
master's  back  is  turned,  and  just  tell  me  whether  there  's 
any  feet  or  not  at  the  end  of  these  legs  of  mine.  I  think  I 
can  see  them,  but  as  for  feelin',  they  might  as  well  be  down 
on  the  banks  of  the  Mohawk  as  where  they  seem  to  be." 

"  You  've  come  off  whole,  Hurry,  and  that 's  not  a 
little,"  answered  the  other,  secretly  passing  to  the  Indian 
the  remainder  of  the  stipulated  ransom,  and  making  an 
earnest  sign,  at  the  same  moment,  for  him  to  commence 
his  retreat.  "  You  've  come  off  whole,  feet  and  all,  and 
are  only  a  little  numb,  from  a  tight  fit  of  the  withes. 
Natur  '11  soon  set  the  blood  in  motion,  and  then  you  may 
begin  to  dance,  to  celebrate  what  I  call  a  most  wonderful 
and  onexpected  deliverance  from  a  den  of  wolves." 


THE  RANSOM  185 

Deerslayer  released  the  arms  of  his  friends,  as  each 
landed,  and  the  two  were  now  stamping  and  limping  about 
on  the  platform,  growling,  and  uttering  denunciations,  as 
they  endeavored  to  help  the  returning  circulation.  They 
had  been  tethered  too  long,  however,  to  regain  the  use  of 
their  limbs  in  a  moment ;  and  the  Indians  being  quite  as 
diligent  on  their  return  as  on  their  advance,  the  raft  was 
fully  a  hundred  yards  from  the  castle  when  Hurry,  turning 
accidentally  in  that  direction,  discovered  how  fast  it  was 
getting  beyond  the  reach  of  his  vengeance.  By  this  time 
he  could  move  with  tolerable  facility,  though  still  numb 
and  awkward.  Hastily  he  seized  the  rifle  that  leaned 
against  the  shoulder  of  Deerslayer,  and  attempted  to  cock 
and  present  it.  The  young  hunter  was  too  quick  for  him. 
Seizing  the  piece  he  wrenched  it  from  the  hands  of  the 
giant ;  not,  however,  until  it  had  gone  off  in  the  struggle, 
when  pointed  directly  upwards.  The  instant  the  gun  went 
off  Hurry  yielded,  and  stumped  towards  the  house  as  fast 
as  his  benumbed  limbs  would  carry  him.  But  he  had  been 
anticipated  by  Judith.  The  whole  stock  of  Hutter's  arms 
had  been  removed,  and  was  already  secreted,  agreeably  to 
Deerslayer's  directions.  In  consequence  of  this  precau 
tion,  so  wisely  taken  by  Deerslayer  who  knew  the  character 
of  the  man  with  whom  he  had  to  deal,  no  means  offered 
by  which  March  could  put  his  treacherous  designs  into 
execution. 

Disappointed  in  his  vengeance,  Hurry  seated  himself, 
and  like  H utter,  for  half  an  hour,  he  was  too  much  occu 
pied  in  endeavoring  to  restore  trie  circulation,  and  in  re 
gaining  the  use  of  his  limbs,  to  indulge  in  any  other  reflec 
tions.  By  the  end  of  this  time  the  raft  had  disappeared, 


1 86  THE  DEERSLAYER 

and  night  was  beginning  to  throw  her  shadows  once  more 
over  the  whole  sylvan  scene.  Before  darkness  had  com 
pletely  set  in,  and  while  the  girls  were  preparing  the  eve 
ning  meal,  Deerslayer  related  to  H utter  an  outline  of  the 
events  that  had  taken  .place,  and  gave  him  a  history  of 
the  means  he  had  adopted  for  his  ransom  and  also  for 
the  security  of  his  children  and  property. 


PART  IV.   THE  MIDNIGHT 
EXPEDITION 

'CHAPTEk  I 

The  sun  had  set  when  the  party  in  the  castle  reassem 
bled,  and  the  canopy  overhead  was ieavy  and  dense,  prom 
ising  another  night  of  darkness.  The  evening  was  calm, 
and  the  surface  of  the  lake  was  scarcely  disturbed  by  a 
ripple.  The  gloom  and  silence  of  the  scene  were  in  sin 
gular  accord  with  the  feelings  of  the  members  of  the  party. 
The  two  ransomed  prisoners  felt  humbled  and  dishonored, 
but  their  humility  partook  of  the  rancor  of  revenge.  They 
were  far  more  disposed  to  remember  the  indignity  with 
which  they  had  been  treated  during  the  last  few  hours  of 
their  captivity,  than  to  feel  grateful  for  the  previous  in 
dulgence.  As  for  the  others  they  were  thoughtful  equally 
from  regret  and  joy.  Deerslayer  and  Judith  felt  most  of 
the  former  sensation,  though  from  very  different  causes, 
while  Hetty  for  the  moment  was  perfectly  happy.  The 
Delaware  had  also  lively  pictures  of  felicity  in  the  pros- 
pecjt  of  so  soon  regaining  his  betrothed.  As  H utter  rose 
to  go  indoors  for  a  moment,  the  silence  was  broken  by 
Hurry  Harry. 

"  Old  Tom  !  "  he  cried,  bursting  into  a  fit  of  boisterous 
laughter,  "  you  looked  amazin'ly  like  a  tethered  bear,  as 
you  was  stretched  on  them  hemlock  boughs,  and  I  only 

187 


1 88  THE  DEERSLAYEg. 

wonder  you  didn't  growl  more.'  Well,  it's  over,  and 
sythes  and  lamentations  won't  mend  the  matter  !  There  's 
the  blackguard  Rivenoak,  he  that  brought-  us  off,  has  an 
oncommon  scalp,  and  I  'd  give  as  much  for  it  myself  as 
the  colony.  Judith,  darling,  did  you  mourn  for  me  much, 
when  I  was  in  the  hands  of  the  heathen  ?  " 

"  Our  tears  have  raised  the  lake,  Harry  March,  as  you 
might  have  seen  by  the  shore. !"  returned  Judith,  with  a 
feigned  levity  that  she  was  far  from  feeling.  "  That  Hetty 
and  I  should  have  grieved  for  father  was  to  be  expected  ; 
but  we  fairly  rained  tears  for  you." 

"  We  were  sorry  for  poor  Hurry,  as  well  as  for  father, 
Judith  !  "  put  in  her  innocent  and  unconscious  sister. 

"  True,  girl,  true  ;  but  we  feel  sorrow  for  everybody 
that's  in  trouble,  you  know,"  returned  the  other  in  a 
quick,  admonitory  manner,  and  a  low  tone.  "Neverthe 
less,  we  are  glad  to  see  you,  Master  March,  and  out  of 
the  hands  of  the  heathen,  too." 

"  Yes,  they  're  a  bad  set,  and  so  is  the  other  brood  of 
'em,  down  on  the  river.  What  I  wonder  is  if  it's  peace 
or  war  between  us  and  the  savages  !  "  continued  Hurry, 
just  as  Deerslayer,  who  had  risen  for  an  instant  and 
listened  attentively,  was  passing  through  the  outer  door. 
"  This  givin'  up  captives  has  a  friendly  look,  and  when 
men  have  traded  together,  on  a  fair  and  honorable  footing, 
they  ought  to  part  fri'nds,  for  that  occasion,  at  least. 
Come  back,  Deerslayer,  and  let  us  have  your  judgment, 
for  I  'm  beginnin'  to  think  more  of  you,  since  your  late 
behavior,  than  I  used  to  do." 

"  There  's  an  answer  to  your  question,  Hurry,  since 
you  're  in  such  haste  to  come  agin  to  blows." 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  189 

As  Deerslayer  spoke,  he  threw  on  the  table  on  which 
the  other  was  reclining  with  one  elbow  a  sort  of  miniature 
fagot,  composed  of  a  dozen  sticks  bound  tightly  together 
with  a  deerskin  thong.  March  seized  it  eagerly,  and  hold 
ing  it  close  to  a  blazing  knot  of  pine  that  lay  on  the  hearth, 
and  which  gave  out  all  the  light  there  was  in  the  room, 
ascertained  that  the  ends  of  the  several  sticks  had  been 
dipped  in  blood. 

"  If  this  is  n't  plain  English,"  said  the  reckless  frontier- 
man,  "  it 's  plain  Injin  !  Here  's  what  they  call  a  diclira- 
tion  of  war,  down  at  York,  Judith.  How  did  you  come  by 
this  defiance,  Deerslayer  ?  " 

"  Fairly  enough.  It  lay,  not  a  minut'  since,  in  what  you 
call  Floatin'  Tom's  dooryard." 

"How  came  it  there  ?  It  never  fell  from  the  clouds 
surely." 

Deerslayer  had  approached  a  window,  and  cast  a  glance 
out  of  it  on  the  dark  aspect  of  the  lake.  As  if  satisfied  with 
what  he  beheld,  he  drew  near  Hurry  and  took  the  bundle 
of  sticks  into  his  own  hand,  examining  it  attentively. 

"  Yes,  this  is  an  Indian  declaration  of  war,  sure 
enough,"  he  said,  "and  it's  a  proof  how  little  you're 
suited  to  be  on  the  path  it  has  traveled,  Harry  March, 
that  it  has  got  here,  and  you  never  the  wiser  as  to  the 
means.  The  savages  may  have  left  the  scalp  on  your 
head,  but  they  must  have  taken  off  the  ears  ;  else  you  'd 
have  heard  the  stirring  of  the  water  made  by  the  lad  as  he 
come  off  agin,  on  his  two  logs.  His  arr'nd  was  to  throw 
these  sticks  at  our  door,  as  much  as  to  say,  we  've  struck 
the  war-post  since  the  trade,  and  the  next  thing  will  be  to 
strike  you" 


190  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  The  prowling  wolves  !  But  hand  me  that  rifle,  Judith, 
and  I  '11  send  an  answer  back  to  the  vagabonds  through 
their  messenger." 

ft  Not  while  I  stand  by,  Master  March,"  coolly  put  in 
Deerslayer,  motioning  for  the  other  to  forbear.  "  Faith 
is  faith,  whether  given  to  a  redskin  or  to  a  Christian. 
The  lad  lighted  a  knot,  and  came  off  fairly,  under  its 
blaze,  to  give  us  this  warning ;  and  no  man  here  should 
harm  him  while  empl'yed  on  such  an  arr'nd.  There 's 
no  use  in  words,  for  the  boy  is  too  cunning  to  leave  the 
knot  burning,  now  his  business  is  done,  and  the  night  is 
already  too  dark  for  a  rifle  to  have  any  sartainty." 

"  That  may  be  true  enough,  as  to  a  gun,  but  there  's 
virtue  still  in  a  canoe,"  answered  Hurry,  passing  towards 
the  door  with  enormous  strides,  carrying  a  rifle  in  his 
hands.  "  The  being  doesn't  live  that  shall  stop  me  from 
following,  and  bringing  back  that  riptyle's  scalp.  The  more 
on  'em  that  you  crush  in  the  egg,  the  fewer  there  '11  be  to 
dart  at  you  in  the  woods  !  " 

Judith  trembled  like  the  aspen,  she  scarce  knew  why 
herself,  though  there  was  the  prospect  of  a  scene  of  vio 
lence  ;  for,  if  Hurry  was  fierce  and  overbearing  in  the 
consciousness  of  his  vast  strength,  Deerslayer  had  about 
him  the  calm  determination  that  promises  greater  perse 
verance,  and  a  resolution  more  likely  to  effect  its  object. 
It  was  the  stern,  resolute  eye  of  the  latter,  rather  than  the 
noisy  vehemence  of  the  first,  that  excited  her  apprehen 
sions.  Hurry  soon  reached  the  spot  where  the  canoe  was 
fastened,  but  not  before  Deerslayer  had  spoken  in  a  quick, 
earnest  voice  to  the  Serpent,  in  Delaware.  The  latter  had 
been  the  first,  in  truth,  to  hear  the  sounds  of  the  oars,  and 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  191 

he  had  gone  upon  the  platform  in  jealous  watchfulness. 
The  light  satisfied  him  that  a  message  was  coming,  and 
when  the  boy  cast  his  bundle  of  sticks  at  his  feet  it  neither 
moved  his  anger  nor  induced  surprise.  He  merely  stood  at 
watch,  rifle  in  hand,  to  make  certain  that  no  treachery  lay 
behind  the  defiance.  As  Deerslayer  now  called  to  him,  he 
stepped  into  the  canoe,  and  quick  as  thought  removed  the 
paddles.  Hurry  was  furious  when  he  found  that  he  was  de 
prived  of  the  means  of  proceeding.  He  first  approached 
the  Indian  with  loud  menaces,  and  even  Deerslayer  stood 
aghast  at  the  probable  consequences.  March  shook  his 
sledge-hammer  fists  and  flourished  his  arms,  as  he  drew 
near  the  Indian,  and  all  expected  he  would  attempt  to  fell 
the  Delaware  to  the  earth  ;  one  of  them  at  least  was  well 
aware  that  such  an  experiment  would  be  followed  by  im 
mediate  bloodshed.  But  even  Hurry  was  awed  by  the  stern 
composure  of  the  chief,  and  he,  too,  knew  that  such  a  man 
was  not  to  be  outraged  with  impunity  ;  he  therefore  turned 
to  vent  his  rage  on  Deerslayer,  where  he  foresaw  n'o  con 
sequences  so  terrible.  What  might  have  been  the  result  of 
this  second  demonstration,  if  completed,  is  unknown,  since 
it  was  never  made. 

"  Hurry,"  said  a  gentle,  soothing  voice  at  his  elbow,  "  it's 
wicked  to  be  so  angry,  and  God  will  not  overlook  it.  The 
Iroquois  treated  you  well,  and  they  did  n't  take  your  scalp, 
though  you  and  father  wanted  to  take  theirs." 

The  influence  of  mildness  on  passion  is  well  known,  and 
was  in  this  case  instantaneous.  Instead  of  throttling  his  old 
fellow-traveler,  Hurry  turned  to  the  girl,  and  poured  out 
a  portion  of  his  discontent,  if  none  of  his  anger,  in  her 
attentive  ears. 


192  THE  DEERSLAYER 

'Tis  too  bad,  Hetty!"  he  exclaimed;  "as  bad  as  a 
county  jail,  or  a  lack  of  beaver,  to  get  a  creatur'  into  your 
very  trap,  and  then  to  see  it  get  off.  As  much  as  six  first 
quality  skins,  in  valie,  has  paddled  off  on  them  clumsy 
logs,  when  twenty  strokes  of  a  well-turned  paddle  would 
overtake  'em.  I  say  in  valie,  for  as  to  the  boy,  in  the  way 
of  natur'  he  is  only  a  boy,  and  is  worth  neither  more  nor 
less  than  one.  Deerslayer,  you  Ve  been  ontrue  to  your 
fri'nds  in  letting  such  a  chance  slip  through  my  fingers 
as  well  as  your  own." 

But  Deerslayer  had  turned  away,  and  Hutter,  who  had 
been  summoned  to  the  platform  by  the  disturbance,  now 
pulled  Hurry  Harry  by  the  sleeve,  and  led  him  into  the 
ark.  There  they  sat  long  in  private  conference.  In  the 
meantime  the  Indian  and  his  friend  had  their  secret  con 
sultation  ;  for,  though  it  wanted  some  three  or  four  hours 
to  the  rising  of  the  star,  there  were  plans  to  be  made,  that 
they  might  not  fail  to  meet  and  rescue  Hist  at  the  time 
she  had  set. 

At  length  the  several  conferences  were  broken  up  by  the 
reappearance  of  Hutter  on  the  platform.  Here  he  assem 
bled  the  whole  party,  and  communicated  as  much  of  his 
intentions  as  he  deemed  expedient.  Of  the  arrangement 
made  by  Deerslayer,  to  abandon  the  castle  during  the 
night,  and  to  take  refuge  in  the  ark,  he  entirely  approved. 
It  struck  him  as  it  had  the  others,  as  the  only  effectual 
means  of  escaping  destruction.  Now  that  the  savages  had 
turned  their  attention  to  the  construction  of  rafts,  no  doubt 
could  exist  of  their  at  least  making  an  attempt  to  carry  the 
building,  and  the  message  of  the  bloody  sticks  sufficiently 
showed  their  confidence  in  their  own  success.  In  short  the 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  193 

old  man  viewed  the  night  as  critical,  and  he  called  on  all 
to  get  ready  as  soon  as  possible,  in  order  to  abandon  the 
dwelling,  temporarily  at  least,  if  not  forever. 

These  communications  made,  everything  proceeded 
promptly,  and  with  intelligence  ;  the  castle  was  secured  in 
the  manner  already  described,  the  canoes  were  withdrawn 
from  the  dock  and  fastened  to  the  ark  by  the  side  of  the 
other ;  the  few  necessaries  that  had  been  left  in  the  house 
were  transferred  to  the  cabin,  the  fire  was  extinguished, 
and  all  embarked. 

The  vicinity  of  the  hills,  with  their  drapery  of  pines,  had 
the  effect  to  render  nights  that  were  obscure  darker  than 
common  on  the  lake.  As  usual,  however,  a  belt  of  com 
parative  light  was  stretched  through  the  centre  of  the  sheet, 
while  it  was  within  the  shadows  of  the  mountains  that  the 
gloom  rested  most  heavily  on  the  water.  The  island  or 
castle  stood  in  this  belt  of  comparative  light,  but  still  the 
night  was  so  dark  as  to  cover  the  departure  of  the  ark. 
At  the  distance  of  an  observer  on  the  shore,  her  move 
ments  could  not  be  seen  at  all,  more  particularly  as  a  back 
ground  of  dark  hillside  filled  up  the  perspective  of  every 
view  that  was  taken  diagonally  or  directly  across  the  water. 

It  was  now  a  question  as  to  the  course  to  be  steered. 
Hutter  decided  that  the  wisest  way  would  be  to  keep  in 
motion  as  the  means  most  likely  to  defeat  any  attempt  at 
a  surprise  —  announcing  his  own  and  March's  intention  to 
requite  themselves  for  the  loss  of  sleep  during  their  cap 
tivity,  by  lying  down.  As  the  air  still  baffled  and  continued 
light,  it  was  finally  determined  to  sail  before  it,  let  it  come 
in  what  direction  it  might,  so  long  as  it  did  not  blow  the 
ark  upon  the  strand.  This  point  settled,  the  released 


194  THE  DEERSLAYER 

prisoners  helped  to  hoist  the  sail,  and  then  threw  themselves 
on  two  of  the  pallets,  leaving  Deerslayer  and  his  friend  to 
look  after  the  movements  of  the  craft,  an  arrangement 
which  their  private  plans  made  doubly  acceptable  to  them. 
That  Judith  and  Hetty  remained  up  also  in  no  manner 
impaired  the  agreeable  features  of  this  change. 

For  some  time  the  scow  rather  drifted  than  sailed  along 
the  western  shore,  following  a  light  southerly  current  of  the 
air.  The  progress  was  slow  —  not  exceeding  a  couple  of 
miles  in  the  hour  —  but  the  two  men  perceived  that  it  was 
not  only  carrying  them  towards  the  point  they  desired  to 
reach,  but  at  a  rate  that  was  quite  as  fast  as  the  hour  yet 
rendered  necessary.  Deerslayer  kept  the  craft  as  much  in 
the  bays  as  was  prudent,  in  order  to  sail  within  the  shadows 
of  the  woods.  In  this  manner  they  doubled  one  low  point, 
and  were  already  in  the  bay  that  was  terminated  north  by 
the  goal  at  which  they  aimed.  The  latter  was  still  a  quarter 
of  a  mile  distant,  when  Chingachgook  came  silently  to  the 
side  of  his  friend  and  pointed  to  a  place  directly  ahead. 
A  small  fire  was  glimmering  just  within  the  verge  of  the 
bushes  that  lined  the  shore  on  the  southern  side  of  the 
point  —  leaving  no  doubt  that  the  Indians  had  suddenly 
removed  their  camp  to  the  very  place,  or  at  least  the 
very  projection  of  land,  where  Hist  had  given  them  the 
rendezvous ! 

CHAPTER  II 

The  discovery  mentioned  at  the  close  of  the  preceding 
chapter  was  of  great  moment  in  the  eyes  of  Deerslayer 
and  his  friend.  In  the  first  place,  there  was  the  danger, 
almost  the  certainty,  that  H utter  and  Hurry  would  make 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  195 

a  fresh  attempt  on  this  camp  should  they  awake  and  as 
certain  its  position.  Then  there  was  the  increased  risk  of 
landing  to  bring  off  Hist ;  and  there  were  the  general 
uncertainty  and  additional  hazards  that  must  follow  from 
the  circumstance  that  their  enemies  had  begun  to  change 
their  positions.  One  of  the  first  things  agreed  upon  be 
tween  Deerslayer  and  the  Indian  was  to  permit  the  other 
two  to  sleep  on,  lest  their  thirst  for  revenge  interfere 
with  the  execution  of  Chingachgook's  project,  of  which  it 
will  be  remembered  they  had  as  yet  no  knowledge.  The 
ark  moved  slowly,  and  it  would  have  taken  fully  a  quarter 
of  an  hour  to  reach  the  point,  at  the  rate  at  which  they 
were  going ;  thus  affording  time  for  a  little  forethought. 
The  Indians,  in  the  wish  to  conceal  their  fire  from  those 
who  were  thought  to  be  still  in  the  castle,  had  placed  it  so 
near  the  southern  side  of  the  point  as  to  render  it  extremely 
difficult  to  shut  it  in  by  the  bushes,  though  Deerslayer 
varied  the  direction  of  the  scow,  both  to  the  right  and  to 
the  left,  in  the  hope  of  being  able  to  effect  that  object. 

"  There  's  one  advantage,  Judith,  in  finding  that  fire  so 
near  the  water,"  he  said,  while  executing  these  little  ma- 
nceuvers  ;  "  since  it  shows  the  Mingos  believe  we  are  in 
the  hut,  and  our  coming  on  'em  from  this  quarter  will  be 
an  onlooked-for  event.  But  'tis  lucky  Harry  March  and 
your  father  are  asleep,  else  we  should  have  'em  prowling 
after  scalps  agin.  Ha  !  there  —  the  bushes  are  beginning 
to  shut  in  the  fire  —  and  now  it  can't  be  seen  at  all !  " 

Deerslayer  waited  a  little  to  make  certain  that  he  had 
at  last  gained  the  desired  position,  when  he  gave  the  signal 
agreed  on,  and  Chingachgook  let  go  the  anchor  and  low 
ered  the  sail.  The  intense  darkness  that  prevailed  so  close 


196  THE  DEERSLAYER 

in  with  the  forest,  too,  served  as  an  effectual  screen  ;  and 
so  long  as  care  was  had  not  to  make  a  noise  there  was 
little  or  no  danger  of  being  detected.  This  Deerslayer 
pointed  out  to  Judith,  even  instructing  her  as  to  the  course 
she  was  to  follow  in  the  event  of  an  alarm. 

"  And  now,  Judith,  as  we  understand  one  another,  it  is 
time  the  Sarpent  and  I  had  taken  to  the  canoe,"  the 
hunter  concluded.  "  The  star  has  not  risen  yet,  it 's  true, 
but  it  soon  must ;  though  none  of  us  are  likely  to  be  any 
the  wiser  fur  it  to-night,  on  account  of  the  clouds.  How- 
s'ever,  Hist  has  a  ready  mind,  and  she  's  one  of  them  that 
doesn't  always  need  to  have  a  thing  afore  her  to  see  it. 
I  '11  warrant  you  she  '11  not  be  either  two  minutes  or  two 
feet  out  of  the  way,  unless  them  jealous  vagabonds,  the 
Mingos,  have  taken  the  alarm  and  hid  her  away,  in  order 
to  prepare  her  mind  for  a  Huron  instead  of  a  Mohican 
husband." 

Chingachgook  and  his  paleface  friend  set  forth  on  their 
hazardous  and  delicate  enterprise  with  a  coolness  and 
method  that  would  have  done  credit  to  men  who  were  on 
their  twentieth  instead  of  being  on  their  first  warpath.  As 
suited  his  relation  to  the  pretty  fugitive  in  whose  service 
they  were  engaged,  the  Indian  took  his  place  in  the  head 
of  the  canoe,  while  Deerslayer  guided  its  movements  in 
the  stern.  By  this  arrangement,  the  former  would  be  the 
first  to  land,  and  the  first  to  meet  his  mistress.  A  few 
minutes  sufficed  to  carry  the  canoe  the  necessary  distance, 
.when  both  the  young  men  ceased  paddling,  as  it  were  by 
instinctive  consent,  and  the  boat  became  stationary. 

The  darkness  increased  rather  than  diminished,  but  it 
was  still  possible,  from  the  place  where  the  adventurers 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  197 

lay,  to  distinguish  the  outlines  of  mountains.  In  vain  did 
the  Delaware  turn  his  head  eastward,  —  to  catch  a  glimpse 
of  the  promised  star  ;  for,  notwithstanding  the  clouds  broke 
a  little  near  the  horizon  in  that  quarter  of  the  heavens,  the 
curtain  continued  so  far  drawn  as  effectually  to  conceal  all 
behind  it.  In  front,  as  was  known  by  the  formation  of  land 
above  and  behind  it,  lay  the  point,  at  a  distance  of  about 
a  thousand  feet.  The  utmost  skill  and  precaution  now 
became  necessary  in  the  management  of  the  canoe.  The 
paddles  were  lifted  and  returned  to  the  water  in  a  noiseless 
manner ;  and  when  within  a  hundred  yards  of  the  beach 
Chingachgook  took  in  his  altogether,  laying  his  hand  on 
his  rifle  in  its  stead.  As  they  got  still  more  within  the  belt 
of  darkness  that  girded  the  woods,  the  canoe  now  seemed 
to  move  by  instinct,  so  cautious  and  deliberate  were  all  its 
motions,  until  in  a  moment  its  bows  grated  on  the  gra'vel  of 
the  beach.  There  was,  as  usual,  a  narrow  strand,  but  bushes 
fringed  the  woods  and  in  most  places  overhung  the  water. 

Chingachgook  stepped  upon  the  beach,  and  cautiously 
examined  it  for  some  distance  on  each  side  of  the  canoe. 
In  order  to  do  this,  he  was  often  obliged  to  wade  to  his 
knees  in  the  lake.  No  Hist  rewarded  his  search.  When 
he  returned,  he  found  his  friend  also  on  the  shore.  They 
next  conferred  in  whispers,  the  Indian  apprehending  that 
they  must  have  mistaken  the  place  of  rendezvous.  Deer- 
slayer  thought  it  was  probable  they  had  mistaken  the  hour. 
While  he  was  yet  speaking,  he  grasped  the  arm  of  the 
Delaware,  caused  him  to  turn  his  head  in  the  directioji  of 
the  lake,  and  pointed  towards  the  summits  of  the  eastern 
mountains.  The  clouds  had  broken  a  little,  apparently  be 
hind  rather  than  above  the  hills  and  the  selected  star  was 


198  THE  DEERSLAYER 

glittering  among  the  branches  of  a  pine.  This  was  every 
way  a  flattering  omen,  and  the  young  men  leaned  on  their 
rifles,  listening  intently  for  the  sound  of  approaching  foot 
steps.  Voices  they  often  heard,  and  mingled  with  them 
were  the  suppressed  cries  of  children,  and  the  low  but 
sweet  laugh  of  Indian  women.  As  the  native  Americans 
are  habitually  cautious,  and  seldom  break  out  in  loud  con 
versation,  the  adventurers  knew  by  these  facts  that  they 
must  be  very  near  the  encampment.  It  was  easy  to  per 
ceive  that  there  was  a  fire  within  the  woods,  by  the  manner 
in  which  some  of  the  upper  branches  of  the  trees  were 
illuminated,  but  it  was  not  possible,  where  they  stood,  to 
ascertain  exactly  how  near  it  was  to  themselves.  Once  or 
twice  it  seemed  as  if  stragglers  from  around  the  fire  were 
approaching  the  place  of  rendezvous ;  but  these  sounds 
were  either  altogether  illusion,  or  those  who  had  drawn 
near  returned  again  without  coming  to  the  shore.  A  quar 
ter  of  an  hour  was  passed  in  this  state  of  intense  expec 
tation  and  anxiety,  when  Deerslayer  proposed  that  they 
should  circle  the  point  in  the  canoe  ;  and  by  getting  a 
position  close  in,  where  the  camp  could  be  seen,  recon 
noitre  the  Indians,  and  thus  enable  themselves  to  form 
some  plausible  conjectures  for  the  non-appearance  of  Hist. 
The  Delaware,  however,  resolutely  refused  to  quit  the  spot, 
plausibly  enough  offering  as  a  reason  the  disappointment 
of  the  girl  should  she  arrive  in  his  absence.  Deerslayer 
felt  for  his  friend's  concern,  and  offered  to  make  the  cir 
cuit  of  the  point  by  himself,  leaving  the  latter  concealed 
in  the  bushes  to  await  the  occurrence  of  any  fortunate 
event  that  might  favor  his  views.  With  this  understand 
ing,  then,  the  parties  separated. 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  199 

As  soon  as  Deerslayer  was  at  his  post  again,  in  the  stern 
of  the  canoe,  he  left  the  shore  with  the  same  precautions, 
and  in  the  same  noiseless  manner  as  he  approached  it. 
On  this  occasion  he  did  not  go  far  from  the  land,  the 
bushes  affording  a  sufficient  cover,  by  keeping  as  close  in 
as  possible.  Indeed,  it  would  not  have  been  easy  to  devise 
any  means  more  favorable  to  reconnoitring  round  an  Indian 
camp,  than  those  afforded  by  the  actual  state  of  things. 
The  formation  of  the  point  permitted  the  place  to  be 
circled  on  three  of  its  sides,  and  the  progress  of  the  boat 
was  so  noiseless  as  to  remove  any  apprehensions  from  an 
alarm  through  sound.  The  most  practiced  and  guarded 
foot  might  stir  a  bunch  of  leaves  or  snap  a  dried  stick  in 
the  dark,  but  a  bark  canoe  could  be  made  to  float  over  the 
surface  of  smooth  water,  almost  with  the  instinctive  readi 
ness,  and  certainly  with  the  noiseless  movements,  of  an 
aquatic  bird. 

Deerslayer  had  got  nearly  in  a  line  between  the  camp 
and  the  ark  before  he  caught  a  glimpse  of  the  fire.  This 
came  upon  him  suddenly,  and  a  little  unexpectedly,  at  first 
causing  an  alarm,  lest  he  had  incautiously  ventured  within 
the  circle  of  light  it  cast.  But,  perceiving  at  a  second 
glance  that  he  was  certainly  safe  from  detection,  so  long 
as  the  Indians  kept  near  the  centre  of  the  illumination,  he 
brought  the  canoe  to  a  state  of  rest. 

The  canoe  now  lay  in  front  of  a  natural  vista,  not  only 
through  the  bushes  that  lined  the  shore  but  of  the  trees 
also,  that  afforded  a  clear  view  of  the  camp.  It  was  by , 
means  of  this  same  opening  that  the  light  had  been  first 
seen  from  the  ark.  In  consequence  of  their  recent  change 
of  ground,  the  Indians  had  not  yet  retired  to  their  huts, 


200  THE  DEERSLAYER 

but  had  been  delayed  by  their  preparations,  which  included 
lodging  as  well  as  food.  A  large  fire  had  been  made,  as 
much  to  answer  the  purpose  of  torches  as  for  the  use  of 
their  simple  cookery  ;  and  at  this  precise  moment  it  was 
blazing  high  and  bright,  having  recently  received  a  large 
supply  of  dried  brush.  The  effect  was  to  illuminate  the 
arches  of  the  forest,  and  to  render  the  whole  area  occupied 
by  the  camp  as  light  as  if  hundreds  of  tapers  were  burning. 
Most  of  the  toil  had  ceased,  and  even  the  hungriest  child 
had  satisfied  its  appetite. 

Deerslayer  saw  at  a  glance  that  many  of  the  warriors 
were  absent.  His  acquaintance,  Rivenoak,  however,  was 
present,  being  seated  in  the  foreground  of  a  picture  that 
Salvator  Rosa  would  have  delighted  to  draw,  his  swarthy 
features  illuminated  as  much  by  pleasure  as  by  the  torch- 
like  flame,  while  he  showed  another  of  the  tribe  one  of 
the  elephants  that  had  caused  so  much  sensation  among 
his  people.  A  boy  was  looking  over  his  shoulder,  in  dull 
curiosity,  completing  the  group.  More  in  the  background, 
eight  or  ten  warriors  lay  half  recumbent  on  the  ground  or 
sat  with  their  backs  inclining  against  trees  —  so  many 
types  of  indolent  repose.  Their  arms  were  near  them, 
sometimes  leaning  against  the  same  trees  as  themselves, 
or  were  lying  across  their  bodies,  in  careless  preparation. 
But  the  group  that  most  attracted  the  attention  of  Deer- 
slayer  was  that  composed  of  the  women  and  children.  All 
the  females  appeared  to  be  collected  together,  and,  almost 
as  a  matter  of  course,  their  young  were  near  them.  The 
former  laughed  and  chatted  in  their  rebuked  and  quiet 
manner,  though  one  who  knew  the  habits  of  the  people 
might  have  detected  that  everything  was  not  going  on  in 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  2OI 

its  usual  train.  Most  of  the  young  women  seemed  to  be 
light-hearted  enough ;  but  one  old  hag  was  seated  apart, 
with  a  watchful,  soured  aspect,  which  the  hunter  at  once 
knew  betokened  that  some  duty  of  an  unpleasant  character 
had  been  assigned  her  by  the  chiefs. 

Deerslayer  looked  eagerly  and  anxiously  for  the  form  of 
Hist.  She  was  nowhere  visible,  though  the  light  penetrated 
to  considerable  distances  in  all  directions  around  the  fire. 
Once  or  twice  he  started,  as  he  thought  he  recognized  her 
laugh;  but  his  ears  were  deceived  by  the  soft  melody  that 
is  so  common  to  the  Indian  female  voice.  At  length  the 
old  woman  spoke  loud  and  angrily,  and  then  he  caught  a 
glimpse  of  one  or  two  dark  figures,  in  the  background  of 
trees,  which  turned  as  if  obedient  to  the  rebuke,  and  walked 
more  within  the  circle  of  the  light.  A  young  warrior's 
form  first  came  fairly  into  view ;  then  followed  two  youth 
ful  females,  one  of  whom  proved  to  be  the  Delaware  girl. 
Deerslayer  now  comprehended  it  all.  Hist  was  watched, 
possibly  by  her  young  companion,  certainly  by  the  old 
woman.  The  youth  was  probably  some  suitor  of  either  her 
or  her  companion  ;  but  even  his  discretion  was  distrusted 
under  the  influence  of  his  admiration.  The  known  vicinity 
of  those  who  might  be  supposed  to  be  her  friends,  and  the 
arrival  of  a  strange  red-man  on  the  lake,  had  induced 
more  than  the  usual  care,  and  the  girl  had  not  been  able 
to  slip  away  from  those  who  watched  her,  in  order  to  keep 
her  appointment.  Deerslayer  traced  her  uneasiness,  by 
her  attempting,  once  or  twice,  to  look  up  through  the 
branches  of  the  trees,  as  if  endeavoring  to  get  glimpses  of 
the  star  she  had  herself  named  as  the  sign  for  meeting. 
All  was  vain,  however,  and  after  strolling  about  the  camp 


202  THE  DEERSLAYER 

a  little  longer,  in  affected  indifference,  the  two  girls  quitted 
their  male  escort,  and  took  seats  among  their  own  sex. 
As  soon  as  this  was  done,  the  old  sentinel  changed  her 
place  to  one  more  agreeable  to  herself,  a  certain  proof  that 
she  had  hitherto  been  exclusively  on  watch. 

Deerslayer  now  felt  greatly  at  a  loss  how  to  proceed.  He 
well  knew  that  Chingachgook  could  never  be  persuaded  to 
return  to  the  ark,  without  making  some  desperate  effort  for 
the  recovery  of  his  mistress,  and  his  own  generous  feelings 
well  disposed  him  to  aid  in  such  an  undertaking.  He 
thought  he  saw  the  signs  of  an  intention  among  the  females 
to  retire  for  the  night ;  and  should  he  remain,  and  the 
fire  continue  to  give  out  its  light,  he  might  discover  the 
particular  hut,  or  arbor,  under  which  Hist  reposed  ;  a  cir 
cumstance  that  would  be  of  infinite  use  in  their  future  pro 
ceedings.  Should  he  remain,  however,  much  longer  where 
he  was,  there  was  great  danger  that  the  impatience  of  his 
friend  would  drive  him  into  some  act  of  imprudence.  At 
each  instant,  indeed,  he  expected  to  see  the  swarthy  form  of 
the  Delaware  appearing  in  the  background,  like  the  tiger 
prowling  around  the  fold.  Taking  all  things  into  consid 
eration,  therefore,  he  came  to  the  conclusion  it  would  be 
better  to  rejoin  his  friend,  and  endeavor  to  temper  his  im 
petuosity  by  some  of  his  own  coolness  and  discretion.  It 
required  but  a  minute  or  two  to  put  this  plan  in  execution, 
the  canoe  returning  to  the  strand  some  ten  or  fifteen  min 
utes  after  it  had  left  it. 

Contrary  to  his  expectations,  perhaps,  Deerslayer  found 
the  Indian  at  his  post,  from  which  he  had  not  stirred, 
fearful  that  his  betrothed  might  arrive  during  his  absence. 
A  conference  followed,  in  which  Chingachgook  was  made 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  203 

acquainted  with  the  state  of  things  in  the  camp.  When 
.Hist  named  the  point  as  the  place  of  meeting,  it  was  with 
the  expectation  of  making  her  escape  from  the  old  position, 
and  of  repairing  to  a  spot  that  she  expected  to  find  without 
any  occupants  ;  but  the  sudden  change  of  localities  had 
disconcerted  her  plans.  A  much  greater  degree  of  vigi 
lance  than  had  been  previously  required  was  now  neces 
sary,  —  and  the  circumstance  that  an  aged  woman  was 
on  watch  also  denoted  some  special  grounds  of  alarm.  All 
these  considerations  were  briefly  discussed,  and  the  course 
to  be  pursued  was  soon  chosen.  Disposing  of  the  canoe  in 
such  a  manner  that  Hist  must  see  it,  should  she  come  to 
the  place  of  meeting  previously  to  their  return,  the  young 
men  looked  to  their  arms,  and  prepared  to  enter  the  wood, 
going  in  a  roundabout  way  in  order  to  approach  the  camp 
from  the  rear.  A  little  rise  in  the  ground  that  lay  behind 
the  encampment  greatly  favored  their  secret  advance. 

As  soon  as  the  friends  emerged  from  the  bushes,  they 
stopped  to  reconnoitre.  The  fire  was  still  blazing  behind 
the  little  ridge,  casting  its  light  upward  into  the  tops  of 
the  trees,  producing  an  effect  that  was  more  pleasing  than 
advantageous.  Still  the  glare  had  its  uses ;  for,  while  the 
background  was  in  obscurity,  the  foreground  was  in  strong 
light ;  exposing  the  savages  and  concealing  their  foes. 
Profiting  by  the  latter  circumstance,  the  young  men  ad 
vanced  cautiously  towards  the  ridge,  Deerslayer  in  front, 
for  he  insisted  on  this  arangement,  lest  the  Delaware 
should  be  led  by  his  feelings  into  some  indiscretion.  It  re 
quired  but  a  moment  to  reach  the  foot  of  the  little  ascent, 
and  then  commenced  the  most  critical  part  of  the  enter 
prise.  Moving  with  exceeding  caution,  and  trailing  his  rifle, 


204  THE  DEERSLAYER 

both  to  keep  its  barrel  out  of  view  and  in  readiness  for 
service,  the  hunter  put  foot  before  foot,  until  he  had  got 
sufficiently  high  to  overlook  the  summit,  his  own  head  be 
ing  alone  brought  into  the  light.  Chingachgook  was  at  his 
side,  and  both  paused  to  take  another  close  examination  of 
the  camp.  In  order,  however,  to  protect  themselves  against 
any  straggler  in  the  rear,  they  placed  their  bodies  against 
the  trunk  of  an  oak,  standing  on  the  side  next  the  fire. 

The  view  that  Deerslayer  now  obtained  of  the  camp 
was  exactly  the  reverse  of  that  he  had  perceived  from  the 
water.  The  dim  figures  which  he  had  formerly  discovered 
must  have  been  on  the  summit  of  the  ridge,  a  few  feet  in 
advance  of  the  spot  where  he  was  now  posted.  The  fire  was 
still  blazing  brightly,  and  around  it  were  seated  on  logs  thir 
teen  warriors,  which  accounted  for  all  whom  he  had  seen 
from  the  canoe.  They  were  conversing  with  much  earnest 
ness  among  themselves,  the  image  of  the  elephant  passing 
from  hand  to  hand.  The  first  burst  of  savage  wonder  had 
abated,  and  the  question  now  under  discussion  was  the 
probable  existence,  the  history  and  habits  of  so  extraordi 
nary  an  animal. 

The  females  were  collected  near  each  other,  much  as 
Deerslayer  had  last  seen  them,  nearly  in  a  line  between 
the  place  where  he  now  stood  and  the  fire.  The  distance 
from  the  oak  against  which  the  young  men  leaned  to  the 
warriors  was  about  thirty  yards  ;  the  women  may  have 
been  half  that  number  of  yards  nigher,  so  near  that  it 
was  possible,  in  the  profound  stillness  of  the  woods,  even 
to  catch  passages  of  the  discourse.  Deerslayer  felt  the 
tremor  that  passed  through  the  frame  of  his  friend  when 
the  latter  first  caught  the  sweet  sounds  that  issued  from 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  205 

the  plump,  pretty  lips  of  Hist.  He  even  laid  a  hand  on 
the  shoulder  of  the  Indian,  as  a  sort  of  admonition  to 
command  himself.  As  the  conversation  grew  more  earnest 
each  leaned  forward  to  listen. 

"The  Hurons  have  more  curious  beasts  than  that,"  said 
one  of  the  girls  contemptuously  ;  for,  like  the  men,  they 
conversed  of  the  elephant  and  his  qualities.  "  The  Dela- 
wares  will  think  this  creature  wonderful,  but  to-morrow  no 
Huron  tongue  will  talk  of  it.  Our  young  men  will  find 
him  if  the  animal  dares  to  come  near  our  wigwams  !  " 

"  The  Delawares  are  so  far  from  letting  such  creatures 
come  into  their  country,"  returned  Hist,  "  that  no  one  has 
even  seen  their  images  there !  Their  young  men  would 
frighten  away  the  images  as  well  as  the  beasts." 

"  The  Delaware  young  men  !  —  the  nation  is  women,  — 
even  the  deer  walk  when  they  hear  their  hunters  coming. 
Who  has   ever  heard  the   name  of  a   young    Delaware 
warrior  ?  " 

This  was  said  in  good-humor,  and  with  a  laugh ;  but  it 
was  also  said  bitingly.  That  Hist  so  felt  it  was  apparent 
by  the  spirit  betrayed  in  her  answer. 

"Who  has  ever  heard  the  name  of  a  young  Delaware?" 
she  repeated  earnestly.  "  Tamenund  himself,  though  now 
as  old  as  the  pines  on  the  hill,  or  as  the  eagles  in  the  air, 
was  once  young  —  his  name  was  heard  from  the  great  salt 
lake  to  the  sweet  waters  of  the  west.  What  is  the  family 
of  Uncas  ?  Where  is  another  as  great,  though  the  pale 
faces  have  ploughed  up  its  graves,  and  trodden  on  its 
bones  ?  Do  the  eagles  fly  as  high,  is  the  deer  as  swift,  or 
the  panther  as  brave  ?  Is  there  no  young  warrior  of  that 
race  ?  Let  the  Huron  maidens  open  their  eyes  wider,  and 


206  THE  DEERSLAYER 

they  may  see  one  called  Chingachgook,  who  is  as  stately 
as  a  young  ash,  and  as  tough  as  the  hickory." 

As  the  girl  used  her  figurative  language,  and  told  her 
companions  "  to  open  their  eyes  and  they  would  see  "  the 
Delaware,  Deerslayer  thrust  his  fingers  into  the  sides  of 
his  friend,  and  indulged  in  a  fit  of  his  hearty,  benevolent 
laughter.  The  other  smiled ;  but  the  language  of  the 
speaker  was  too  flattering  and  the  tones  of  her  voice  too 
sweet  for  him  to  be  led  away  by  any  accidental  coinci 
dence,  however  ludicrous.  The  speech  of  Hist  produced 
a  retort,  and  the  dispute,  though  still  good-humored,  grew 
warm  and  slightly  clamorous.  In  the  midst  of  this  scene 
the  Delaware  caused  his  friend  to  stoop,  so  as  completely 
to  conceal  himself,  and  then  he  made  a  noise  so  closely 
resembling  the  little  chirrup  of  the  smallest  species  of  the 
American  squirrel,  that  Deerslayer  himself,  though  he  had 
heard  the  imitation  a  hundred  times,  actually  thought  it 
came  from  one  of  the  little  animals  skipping  about  over  his 
head.  The  sound  is  so  familiar  in  the  woods  that  none  of 
the  Hurons  paid  it  the  least  attention.  Hist,  however,  in 
stantly  ceased  talking,  and  sat  motionless.  Still,  she  had 
sufficient  self-command  to  abstain  from  turning  her  head. 
She  had  heard  the  signal  by  which  her  lover  so  often  called 
her  from  the  wigwam  to  the  stolen  interview,  and  it  came 
over  her  senses  and  her  heart,  as  the  serenade  affects  the 
maiden  in  the  land  of  song. 

From  that  moment  Chingachgook  felt  certain  that  his 
presence  was  known.  This  was  effecting  much,  and  he 
could  now  hope  for  a  bolder  line  of  conduct  on  the  part 
of  his  mistress  than  she  might  dare  to  adopt  under  an  un 
certainty  of  his  situation.  Deerslayer,  too,  was  not  slow  to 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  207 

detect  the  great  change  that  had  come  over  the  manner  of 
the  girl.  She  still  affected  to  dispute,  though  it  was  no 
longer  with  spirit  and  ingenuity,  but  what  she  said  was  ut 
tered  more  as  a  lure  to  draw  her  antagonists  on  to  an  easy 
conquest  than  with  any  hopes  of  succeeding  herself.  At 
length  the  disputants  became  wearied,  and  they  rose  in 
a  body  as  if  about  to  separate.  It  was  now  that  Hist,  for 
the  first  time,  ventured  to  turn  her  face  in  the  direction 
whence  the  signal  had  come.  In  doing  this,  her-  move 
ments  were  natural  but  guarded,  and  she  stretched  her 
arm  and  yawned,  as  if  overcome  with  a  desire  to  sleep. 
The  chirrup  was  again  heard,  and  the  girl  felt  satisfied  as 
to  the  position  of  her  lover,  though  the  strong  light  in 
which  she  herself  was  placed,  and  the  comparative  dark 
ness  in  which  the  adventurers  stood,  prevented  her  from 
seeing  them. 

The  moment  was  near  when  it  became  necessary  for 
Hist  to  act.  She  was  to  sleep  in  a  small  hut,  and  her 
companion  was  the  aged  hag  already  mentioned.  Once 
within  the  hut,  with  this  sleepless  old  woman  stretched 
across  the  entrance,  as  was  her  nightly  practice,  the  hope 
of  escape  was  nearly  destroyed,  and  she  might  at  any  mo 
ment  be  summoned  to  her  bed.  Luckily,  at  this  instant, 
one  of  the  warriors  called  to  the  old  woman  by  name,  and 
bade  her  bring  him  water  to  drink.  There  was  a  deli 
cious  spring  on  the  northern  side  of  the  point,  and  the  hag 
took  a  gourd  from  a  branch,  and  summoning  Hist  to  her 
side,  she  moved  towards  the  summit  of  the  ridge,  intend 
ing  to  descend  and  cross  the  point  to  the  natural  fountain. 
All  this  was  seen  and  understood  by  the  adventurers,  and 
they  fell  back  into  the  obscurity,  concealing  their  persons 


208  THE  DEERSLAYER 

by  trees,  until  the  two  females  had  passed  them.  In  walk 
ing,  Hist  was  held  tightly  by  the  hand.  As  she  moved  by 
the  tree  that  hid  Chingachgook  and  his  friend,  the  former 
repeated  the  chirrup  to  indicate  his  position,  and  the  Hu 
ron  woman  stopped  and  faced  the  tree  whence  the  sounds 
seemed  to  proceed,  standing,  at  the  moment,  within  six 
feet  of  her  enemies.  She  expressed  her  surprise  that  a 
squirrel  should  be  in  motion  at  so  late  an  hour,  and  said 
it  boded  evil.  Hist  answered  that  she  had  heard  the  same 
squirrel  three  times  within  the  last  twenty  minutes,  and 
that  she  supposed  it  was  waiting  to  obtain  some  of  the 
crumbs  left  from  the  late  supper.  This  explanation  ap 
peared  satisfactory,  and  they  moved  towards  the  spring, 
the  men  following  stealthily  and  closely.  The  gourd  was 
filled,  and  the  old  woman  was  hurrying  back,  her  hand 
still  grasping  the  wrist  of  the  girl,  when  she  was  suddenly 
seized  so  violently  by  the  throat  as  to  cause  her  to  release 
her  captive,  and  to  prevent  her  making  any  other  sound 
than  a  sort  of  gurgling,  suffocating  noise.  The  Serpent 
passed  his  arm  round  the  waist  of  his  mistress,  and  dashed 
through  the  bushes  with  her,  on  the  north  side  of  the 
point.  Here  he  immediately  turned  along  the  beach  and 
ran  towards  the  canoe. 

Deerslayer's  part  in  the  enterprise  was  plainly  to  endeavor 
to  keep  the  old  woman  from  sounding  an  alarm  until 
his  friend  should  have  safely  reached  the  canoe.  This  he 
did  by  playing  on  her  throat  as  on  the  keys  of  an  organ, 
occasionally  allowing  her  to  breathe,  and  then  compress 
ing  his  fingers  again  nearly  to  strangling  her. 

The  brief  intervals  for  breath,  however,  were  well  im 
proved,  and  the  hag  succeeded  in  letting  out  a  screech  or 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  209 

two  that  served  to  alarm  the  camp.  The  tramp  of  the 
warriors,  as  they  sprang  from  the  fire,  was  plainly  audible  ; 
and,  at  the  next  moment,  three  or  four  of  them  appeared 
on  the  top  of  the  ridge,  drawn  against  the  background  of 
light,  resembling  the  dim  shadows  of  the  phantasmagoria. 
It  was  now  quite  time  for  the  hunter  to  retreat.  Tripping 
up  the  heels  of  his  captive,  and  giving  her  throat  a  part 
ing  squeeze,  he  left  her  on  her  back,  and  moved  towards 
the  bushes,  his  rifle  at  a  poise,  and  his  head  over  his 
shoulders  like  a  lion  at  bay. 

CHAPTER  III 

To  gain  the  beach,  and  to  follow  it  round  to  the  place 
where  Chingachgook  was  already  in  the  canoe  with  Hist, 
anxiously  waiting  his  appearance,  took  Deerslayer  but  a 
moment.  Laying  his  rifle  in  the  bottom  of  the  canoe,  he 
stooped  to  give  the  latter  a  vigorous  shove  from  the  shore, 
when  a  powerful  Indian  leaped  through  the  bushes,  alight 
ing  like  a  panther  on  his  back.  With  a  generosity  which 
was  so  much  a  part  of  his  character  as  to  be  instinctive, 
Deerslayer  threw  all  his  force  into  a  desperate  effort, 
shoved  the  canoe  off  with  a  power  that  sent  it  a  hundred 
feet  from  the  shore  as  it  might  be  in  an  instant,  and 
fell  forward  into  the  lake  himself,  face  downward  ;  his 
assailant  necessarily  following  him. 

Although  the  water  was  deep  within  a  few  yards  of  the 
beach,  it  was  not  more  than  breast-high  as  close  in  as  the 
spot  where  the  two  combatants  fell.  Still  this  was  quite 
sufficient  to  destroy  one  who  had  sunk  under  the  great 
disadvantages  in  which  Deerslayer  was  placed.  His  hands 


210  THE  DEERSLAYER 

were  free,  however,  and  the  savage  was  compelled  to  re 
linquish  his  hug  to  keep  his  own  face  above  the  surface. 
For  half  a  minute  there  was  a  desperate  struggle,  and  then 
both  stood  erect,  grasping  each  other's  arms,  in  order  to 
prevent  the  use  of  the  deadly  knife  in  the  darkness.  What 
might  have  been  the  issue  of  this  severe  personal  struggle 
cannot  be  known,  for  half  a  dozen  savages  came  leaping 
into  the  water  to  the  aid  of  their  friend,  and  Deerslayer 
yielded  himself  a  prisoner  with  a  dignity  that  was  as 
remarkable  as  his  self-devotion. 

To  quit  the  lake  and  lead  their  new  captive  to  the  fire 
occupied  the  Indians  but  another  minute.  So  much  en 
gaged  were  they  all  with  the  struggle  and  its  consequences 
that  the  canoe  was  unseen,  though  it  still  lay  so  near  the 
shore  as  to  render  every  syllable  that  was  uttered  perfectly 
intelligible  to  the  Delaware  and  his  betrothed ;  and  the 
whole  party  left  the  spot,  some  continuing  the  pursuit  after 
Hist,  along  the  beach,  though  most  proceeded  to  the  light. 
Here  Deerslayer's  antagonist  so  far  recovered  his  breath 
and  his  recollection,  for  he  had  been  throttled  nearly  to 
strangulation,  as  to  relate  the  manner  in  which  the  girl 
had  got  off.  It  was  now  too  late  to  assail  the  other  fugi 
tives,  for  no  sooner  was  his  friend  led  into  the  bushes  than 
the  Delaware  placed  his  paddle  in  the  water,  and  the  light 
canoe  glided  noiselessly  away,  holding  its  course  towards 
the  centre  of  the  lake,  until  safe  from  shot,  after  which  it 
sought  the  ark. 

When  Deerslayer  reached  the  fire,  he  found  himself 
surrounded  by  no  less  than  eight  grim  savages,  among 
whom  was  his  old  acquaintance  Rivenoak.  As  soon  as  the 
latter  caught  a  glimpse  of  the  captive's  countenance,  he 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  21 1 

spoke  apart  to  his  companions,  and  a  low  but  general  ex 
clamation  of  pleasure  and  surprise  escaped  them.  They 
knew  that  the  conqueror  of  their  late  friend,  he  who  had 
fallen  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  lake,  was  in  their  hands, 
and  subject  to  their  mercy  or  vengeance.  There  was  no 
little  admiration  mingled  in  the  ferocious  looks  that  were 
thrown  on  the  prisoner,  an  admiration  that  was  as  much 
excited  by  his  present  composure  as  by  his  past  deeds. 
This  scene  may  be  said  to  have  been  the  commencement 
of  the  great  and  terrible  reputation  that  Deerslayer,  or 
Hawkeye,  as  he  was  afterwards  called,  enjoyed  among 
all  the  tribes  of  New  York  and  Canada. 

The  arms  of  Deerslayer  were  not  pinioned,  and  he  was 
left  the  free  use  of  his  hands,  his  knife  having  been  first 
removed.  The  only  precaution  that  was  taken  to  secure 
his  person  was  untiring  watchfulness,  and  a  strong  rope  of 
bark  that  passed  from  ankle  to  ankle,  not  so  much  to  pre 
vent  his  walking  as  to  place  an  obstacle  in  the  way  of  his 
attempting  to  escape  by  any  sudden  leap.  Even  this  extra 
provision  against  flight  was  not  made  until  the  captive  had 
been  brought  to  the  light  and  his  character  ascertained.  It 
was,  in  fact,  a  compliment  to  his  prowess,  and  he  felt 
proud  of  the  distinction.  That  he  might  be  bound  when 
the  warriors  slept  he  would  have  thought  probable,  but  to 
be  bound  in  the  moment  of  capture  showed  that  he  was 
already,  and  thus  early,  attaining  a  name.  While  the 
young  Indians  were  fastening  the  rope,  he  wondered  if 
Chingachgook  would  have  been  treated  in  the  same  man 
ner,  had  he  too  fallen  into  the  hands  of  the  enemy.  Nor 
did  the  reputation  of  the  young  paleface  rest  altogether  on 
his  success  in  the  previous  combat,  or  in  his  discriminating 


212  THE  DEERSLAYER 

and  cool  manner  of  managing  the  late  negotiation  ;  for  it 
had  deceived  a  great  accession  by  the  occurrences  of  the 
night.  Ignorant  of  the  movements  of  the  ark,  and  of  the 
accident  that  had  brought  their  fire  into  view,  the  Iroquois 
attributed  the  discovery  of  their  new  camp  to  the  vigilance 
of  so  shrewd  a  foe.  The  manner  in  which  he  ventured 
upon  the  point,  the  abstraction  or  escape  of  Hist,  and 
most  of  all  the  self-devotion  of  the  prisoner,  united  to  the 
readiness  with  which  he  had  sent  the  canoe  adrift,  were  so 
many  important  links  in  the  chain  of  facts  on  which  his 
growing  fame  was  founded. 

While  the  warriors  consulted  together,  near  at  hand,  all 
those  who  had  been  out  having  returned  to  report  that  no 
signs  of  any  other  prowlers  near  the  camp  were  to  be 
found,  Deerslayer  was  permitted  to  seat  himself  on  the  end 
of  a  log,  near  the  fire,  in  order  to  dry  his  clothes,  his  late 
adversary  standing  opposite,  now  holding  articles  of  his  own 
scanty  vestments  to  the  heat,  and  now  feeling  his  throat, 
on  which  the  marks  of  his  enemy's  fingers  were  still  quite 
visible.  In  this  state  of  things,  the  old  woman,  whose 
name  was  Shebear,  in  plain  English,  approached  Deer- 
slayer  with  her  fists  clenched  and  her  eyes  flashing  fire. 
Although  Deerslayer  had  not  permanently  injured  her, 
he  had  temporarily  caused  her  to  suffer,  and  had  thus 
aroused  all  the  fury  of  a  woman  not  likely  to  overlook 
such  treatment. 

"  Skunk  of  the  palefaces,"  commenced  this  exasperated 
fury,  shaking  her  fist  under  the  nose  of  the  impassible 
hunter,  "you  are  not  even  a  woman.  Your  friends,  the 
Delawares,  are  only  women,  and  you  are  their  sheep.  Your 
own  people  will  not  own  you,  and  no  tribe  of  red-men 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  213 

would  have  you  in  their  wigwams ;  you  skulk  among 
petticoated  warriors.  You  slay  our  brave  friend  who  has 
left  us  ?  —  no  —  his  great  soul  scorned  to  fight  you,  and 
left  his  body  rather  than  have  the  shame  of  slaying  you  ! 
But  the  blood  that  you  spilt  when  the  spirit  was  not  look 
ing  on  has  not  sunk  into  the  ground.  It  must  be  buried  in 
your  groans  !  What  music  do  I  hear  ?  Those  are  not  the 
wailings  of  a  red-man  !  —  no  red  warrior  groans  so  much 
like  a  hog.  They  come  from  a  paleface  throat  —  a  Yen- 
geese  bosom,  and  sound  as  pleasant  as  girls  singing.  Dog 

-  skunk  —  woodchuck  —  mink  —  hedgehog  —  pig  - 
toad  —  spider  —  Yengee  " 

Here  the  old  woman,  having  expended  her  breath,  and 
exhausted  her  epithets,  was  fain  to  pause  a  moment,  though 
both  her  fists  were  shaken  in  the  prisoner's  face,  and  the 
whole  of  her  wrinkled  countenance  was  filled  with  fierce 
resentment.  Deerslayer  looked  upon  these  impotent  at 
tempts  to  arouse  him  with  indifference,  but  he  well  under 
stood  that  he  was  to  be  the  subject  of  all  her  means  of 
annoyance,  if  not  of  positive  injury,  so  long  as  he  re 
mained  in  the  power  of  his  enemies.  He  was,  however, 
spared  any  further  attack  at  present,  by  the  interposition 
of  Rivenoak,  who  shoved  aside  the  hag,  bidding  her  quit 
the  spot,  and  prepared  to  take  his  seat  at  the  side  of  his 
prisoner. 

"  My  paleface  friend  is  very  welcome,"  said  the  Indian, 
with  a  covert  smile ;  "  he  is  welcome.  The  Hurons  keep 
a  hot  fire  to  dry  the  white  man's  clothes." 

"  I  thank  you,  Huron,  or  Mingo,  as  I  most  like  to  call 
you,"  returned  the  other  ;  "  I  thank  you  for  the  welcome, 
and  I  thank  you  for  the  fire.  Each  is  good  in  its  way,  and 


214  THE  DEERSLAYER 

the  last  is  very  good,  when  one  has  been  in  a  spring  as 
cold  as  the  Glimmerglass.  Even  Huron  warmth  may  be 
pleasant,  at  such  a  time,  to  a  man  with  a  Delaware  heart." 

"  My  brother  Hawkeye  is  not  a  woman  ;  why  does  he 
live  with  the  Delawares  ?  " 

"  Providence  placed  me  among  the  Delawares  young, 
Mingo  ;  and,  'bating  what  Christian  usages  demand  of  my 
color  and  gifts,  I  hope  to  live  and  die  in  their  tribe.  Still, 
I  do  not  mean  to  throw  away  altogether  my  natyve  rights, 
and  shall  strive  to  do  a  paleface's  duty  in  redskin  society." 

"  Good !  a  Huron  is  a  redskin,  as  well  as  a  Delaware. 
Hawkeye  is  more  of  a  Huron  than  of  a  woman." 

"  I  suppose  you  know,  Mingo,  your  own  meaning —  if 
you  don't,  I  make  no  question  'tis  well  known  to  Satan. 
But  if  you  wish  to  get  anything  out  of  me,  speak  plainer, 
for  bargains  cannot  be  made  blindfolded  or  tongue-tied." 

"Good!  Hawkeye  has  not  a  forked  tongue,  and  he  likes 
to  say  what  he  thinks.  He  is  an  acquaintance  of  the  Musk- 
rat,"  —  this  was  a  name  by  which  all  the  Indians  desig 
nated  Hutter,  —  "  and  he  has  lived  in  his  wigwam  ;  but 
he  is  not  a  friend.  He  wants  no  scalps,  like  a  miserable 
Indian,  but  fights  like  a  stout-hearted  paleface.  The  Musk- 
rat  is  neither  white  nor  red ;  neither  a  beast  nor  a  fish. 
He  is  a  water-snake ;  sometimes  in  the  spring  and  some 
times  on  the  land.  He  looks  for  scalps  like  an  outcast. 
Hawkeye  can  go  back  and  tell  him  how  he  has  outwitted 
the  Hurons,  how  he  has  escaped ;  and  when  his  eyes  are 
in  a  fog,  when  he  can't  see  as  far  as  from  his  cabin  to  the 
woods,  then  Hawkeye  can  open  the  door  for  the  Hurons. 
And  how  will  the  plunder  be  divided  ?  Why,  Hawkeye 
will  carry  away  the  most,  and  the  Hurons  will  take  what 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  215 

he  may  choose  to  leave  behind  him.    The  scalps  can  go 
to  Canada,  for  a  paleface  has  no  satisfaction  in  them" 

"Well,  well,  Rivenoak,  —  for  so  I  hear  'em  tarm  you,— 
this  is  plain  English  enough,  though  spoken  in  Iroquois. 
I  understand  all  you  mean,  now,  and  must  say  it  out- 
devils  even  Mingo  deviltry !  No  doubt,  't  would  be  easy 
enough  to  go  back  and  tell  the  Muskrat  that  I  had  got 
away  from  you,  and  gain  some  credit,  too,  by  the  explite." 

"  Good !  that  is  what  I  want  the  paleface  to  do." 

"Yes  —  yes  —  that's  plain  enough.  I  know  what  you 
want  me  to  do,  without  more  words.  When  inside  the 
house,  and  eating  the  Muskrat's  bread,  and  laughing  and 
talking  with  his  pretty  darters,  I  might  put  his  eyes  into  so 
thick  a  fog  that  he  could  n't  even  see  the  door,  much  less 
the  land." 

"Good!  Hawkeye  should  have  been  born  a  Huron! 
His  blood  is  not  more  than  half  white !  " 

;'  There  you  're  out,  Huron  ;  yes,  there  you  're  as  much 
out,  as  if  you  mistook  a  wolf  for  a  catamount.  I  'm  white 
in  blood,  heart,  natur',  and  gifts,  though  a  little  redskin 
in  feelin's  and  habits.  But  when  old  Hutter's  eyes  are 
well  befogged,  and  his  pretty  darters,  perhaps,  in  a  deep 
sleep,  and  Hurry  Harry,  the  Great  Pine,  as  you  Indians 
tarm  him,  is  dreaming  of  anything  but  mischief,  and  all 
suppose  Hawkeye  is  acting  as  a  faithful  sentinel,  all  I 
have  to  do  is  to  set  a  torch  somewhere  in  sight  for  a 
signal,  open  the  door,  and  let  in  the  Hurons  to  knock 
'em  all  on  the  head." 

"  Surely  my  brother  is  mistaken  ;  he  cannot  be  white ! 
He  is  worthy  to  be  a  great  chief  among  the  Hurons !  " 

"  That  is  true  enough,  I  dare  to  say,  if  he  could  do  all 


216  THE  UEERSLAYER 

this.  Now,  harkee,  Huron,  and  for  once  hear  a  few  honest 
words  from  the  mouth  of  a  plain  man.  I  am  a  Christian 
born,  and  them  that  come  of  such  a  stock,  and  that  listen 
to  the  words  that  were  spoken  to  their  fathers,  and  will 
be  spoken  to  their  children,  until  'arth  and  all  it  holds 
perishes,  can  never  lend  themselves  to  such  wickedness. 
Sarcumventions  in  war  may  be,  and  are  lawful ;  but  sar- 
cumventions,  and  deceit,  and  treachery,  among  fri'nds,  are 
fit  only  for  the  paleface  devils.  I  know  that  there  are  white 
men  enough  to  give  you  this  wrong  idee  of  our  natur ', 
but  such  are  ontrue  to  their  blood  and  gifts,  and  ought  to 
be,  if  they  are  not,  outcasts  and  vagabonds.  No  upright 
paleface  could  do  what  you  wish,  and  to  be  as  plain  with 
you  as  I  wish  to  be,  in  my  judgment  no  upright  Delaware 
either;  with  a  Mingo  it  may  be  different." 

The  Huron  listened  to  his  rebuke  with  obvious  disgust ; 
but  he  had  his  ends  in  view,  and  was  too  wily  to  lose  all 
chance  of  effecting  them  by  a  precipitate  avowal  of  resent 
ment.  Affecting  to  smile,  he  seemed  to  listen  eagerly ; 
and  with  an  air  of  pondering  on  what  he  had  heard,  he 
quitted  his  prisoner,  and  joining  the  rest  of  his  warriors 
he  communicated  to  them  the  substance  of  his  conversa 
tion  with  the  prisoner.  In  a  few  moments  he  returned, 
assuming  his  former  position  on  the  log  at  the  side  of 
Deerslayer.  Here  he  continued  silent  for  a  little  time, 
maintaining  the  grave  reserve  of  an  Indian  chief. 

"  Hawkeye  is  right,"  the  Iroquois  at  length  began ; 
"  his  sight  is  so  strong  that  he  can  see  truth  in  a  dark 
night,  and  our  eyes  have  been  blinded.  He  is  an  owl,  dark 
ness  hiding  nothing  from  him.  He  ought  not  to  strike 
his  friends,  He  is  right." 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  2l; 

"  I  'm  glad  you  think  so,  Mingo,"  returned  the  other, 
"for  a  traitor,  in  my  judgment,  is  worse  than  a  coward. 
I  care  as  little  for  the  Muskrat  as  one  paleface  ought  to 
care  for  another ;  but  I  care  too  much  for  him  to  ambush 
him  in  the  way  you  wished.  In  short,  according  to  my 
idees,  any  sarcumvention,  except  open-war  sarcumven- 
tions,  are  agin  both  law,  and  what  we  whites  call  '  gos 
pel,'  too." 

"  My  paleface  brother  is  right ;  he  is  no  Indian  to  for 
get  his  Manitou  and  his  color.  The  Hurons  know  that 
they  have  a  great  warrior  for  their  prisoner,  and  they  will 
treat  him  as  one.  If  he  is  to  be  tortured,  his  torments 
shall  be  such  as  no  common  man  can  bear ;  if  he  is  to  be 
treated  as  a  friend,  it  will  be  the  friendship  of  chiefs." 

As  the  Huron  uttered  this  extraordinary  assurance  of 
consideration  his  eye  furtively  glanced  at  the  countenance 
of  his  listener,  in  order  to  discover  how  he  stood  the 
compliment.  Although  Deerslayer  was  sufficiently  well 
acquainted  with  the  Indian  notions  of  what  constituted 
respect,  in  matters  connected  with  the  treatment  of  cap 
tives,  so  that  he  felt  his  blood  chill  at  the  announcement, 
yet  he  maintained  an  aspect  so  steeled  that  his  quick- 
sighted  enemy  could  discover  in  it  no  signs  of  weakness. 

"  God  has  put  me  in  your  hands,  Huron,"  the  captive 
at  length  answered,  "  and  I  suppose  you  will  act  your  will 
on  me.  I  shall  not  boast  of  what  I  can  do,  under  torment, 
for  I  've  never  been  tried,  and  no  man  can  say  till  he  has 
been  ;  but  I  '11  do  my  endivors  not  to  disgrace  the  people 
among  whom  I  got  my  training.  Hows'ever,  I  wish  you 
now  to  bear  witness,  that  I  'm  altogether  of  white  blood, 
and,  in  a  nat'ral  way,  of  white  gifts,  too ;  so,  should  I  be 


218  THE  DEERSLAYER 

overcome  and  forget  myself,  I  hope  you  '11  lay  the  fault 
where  it  properly  belongs  ;  and  in  no  manner  put  it  on 
the  Delawares,  or  their  allies  and  friends  the  Mohicans. 
We  're  all  created  with  more  or  less  weakness,  and  I  'm 
afeard  it 's  a  paleface's  to  give  in  under  great  bodily  tor 
ment,  when  a  redskin  will  sing  his  songs,  and  boast  of  his 
deeds  in  the  very  teeth  of  his  foes  !  " 

"  We  shall  see.  Hawkeye  has  a  good  countenance,  and 
he  is  tough  —  but  why  should  he  be  tormented  when  the 
Hurons  love  him  ?  He  is  not  born  their  enemy  ;  and  the 
death  of  one  warrior  will  not  cast  a  cloud  between  them 
forever." 

11  So  much  the  better,  Huron  ;  so  much  the  better. 
Still,  I  don't  wish  to  owe  anything  to  a  mistake  about 
each  other's  meaning.  It  is  so  much  the  better  that  you 
bear  no  malice  for  the  loss  of  a  warrior  who  fell  in  war ; 
and  yet  it  is  ontrue  that  there  is  no  inmity  —  lawful  inmity, 
I  mean,  atween  us.  So  far  as  I  have  redskin  feelin's  at 
all,  I  've  Delaware  feelin's  ;  and  I  leave  you  to  judge  for 
yourself,  how  far  they  are  likely  to  be  fri'ndly  to  the 
Mingos  " 

Deerslayer  ceased,  for  a  sort  of  spectre  stood  before 
him  that  put  a  stop  to  his  words,  and,  indeed,  caused  him 
for  a  moment  to  doubt  the  fidelity  of  his  boasted  vision. 
Hetty  Hutter  was  standing  at  the  side  of  the  fire,  as 
quietly  as  if  she  belonged  to  the  tribe,  and  as  if  it  were 
not  the  middle  of  the  night. 

As  the  hunter  and  the  Indian  sat  together,  the  girl  had 
approached  unnoticed  by  them,  doubtless  from  the  beach, 
and  had  advanced  to  the  fire  with  the  fearlessness  that  be 
longed  to  her  simplicity,  and  which  was  certainly  justified 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  219 

by  the  treatment  formerly  received  from  the  Indians. 
As  soon  as  Rivenoak  perceived  the  girl,  he  sent  two  of 
the  younger  warriors  out  to  reconnoitre,  lest  her  appear 
ance  should  be  the  forerunner  of  another  attack.  He  then 
motioned  to  Hetty  to  draw  near. 

"  I  hope  your  visit  is  a  sign  that  the  Sarpent  and  Hist 
are  in  safety,  Hetty,"  said  Deerslayer,  as  soon  as  the  girl 
had  complied  with  the  Huron's  request.  "  I  don't  think 
you  'd  come  ashore  agin  on  the  arr'nd  that  brought  you 
here  afore." 

"Judith  told  me  to  come  this  time,  Deerslayer,"  Hetty 
replied ;  "  she  paddled  me  ashore  herself,  in  a  canoe,  as 
soon  as  the  Serpent  had  shown  her  Hist,  and  told  his 
story.  She  bid  me  come  to  see  you,  and  to  try  and  per 
suade  the  savages  to  take  more  elephants  to  let  you  off ; 
but  I  've  brought  the  Bible  with  me  —  that  will  do  more 
than  all  the  elephants  in  father's  chest !  " 

"  And  your  father,  good  little  Hetty  —  and  Hurry  ;  did 
they  know  of  your  arr'nd  ?  " 

"  Nothing.  Both  are  asleep  ;  and  Judith  and  the  Ser 
pent  thought  it  best  they  should  not  be  woke,  less  they 
might  want  to  come  again  after  scalps,  when  Hist  had 
told  them  how  few  warriors  and  how  many  women  and 
children  there  were  in  the  camp.  Judith  would  give  me 
no  peace  till  I  had  come  ashore,  to  see  what  .had  hap 
pened  to  you." 

"  Well,  that 's  kind  as  consarns  Judith  !  But  I  'm  sorry 
/she  sent  you,  for  I  'm  afeard  you  '11  not  find  it  so  easy  to 
go  back  again  this  time.  They  're  a  venomous  set  of 
riptyles,  and  their  p'ison  's  none  the  milder  for  the  loss 
of  Hist." 


220  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  Now  you  put  me  in  mind  of  a  part  of  my  errand  that 
I  had  almost  forgotten,  Deerslayer.  Judith  told  me  to  ask 
you  what  you  thought  the  Hurons  would  do  with  you  if 
you  could  n't  be  bought  off,  and  what  jv^hacl  best  do  to 
serve  you.  Yes,  this  was  the  most  important  pa*{;  of  the 
errand  —  what  she  had  best  do  in  order  to  serve,  you." 

"That's  as  you  think,  Hetty;  but  it's  no  matter. 
Young  women  are  apt  to  lay  most  stress  on  what  most 
touches  their  feelin's  ;  but  no  matter;  have  it  your  own 
way,  so  you  be  but  careful  not  to  let  the  vagabonds  get 
the  mastery  of  a  canoe.  When  you  get  back  to  the  ark, 
tell  'em  to  keep  close,  and  to  keep  moving  too,  most 
especially  at  night.  Many  hours  can't  go  by  without  the 
troops  on  the  river  hearing  of  this  party,  and  then  your 
fri'nds  may  look  for  relief.  'T  is  but  a  day's  march  from 
the  nearest  garrison,  and  true  soldiers  will  never  lie  idle 
with  the  foe  in  their  neighborhood.  This  is  my  advice, 
and  you  must  say  to  your  father  and  Hurry  that  scalp- 
hunting  will  be  a  poor  business  now,  as  the  Mingos  are 
up  and  awake,  and  nothing  can  save  'em  till  the  troops 
come  except  keeping  a  good  belt  of  water  atween  'em  and 
the  savages." 

"  What  shall  I  tell  Judith  about  you,  Deerslayer  ?  I 
know  she  will  send  me  back  again,  if  I  don't  bring  her 
the  truth  about  you" 

"  Then  tell  her  the  truth.  I  see  no  reason  Judith  Hutter 
should  n't  hear  the  truth  about  me  as  well  as  a  lie.  I  'm 
a  captyve  in  Indian  hands,  and  Providence  only  knows 
what  will  come  of  it !  Harkee,  Hetty,"  dropping  his  voice 
and  speaking  still  more  confidentially,  "you  are  a  little 
weak-minded,  it  must  be  allowed,  but  you  know  something 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  221 

of  Injins.  Here  I  am  in  their  hands,  after  having  slain 
one  of  their  stoutest  warriors,  and  they  've  been  endivoring 
to  work  upon  me,  through  fear  of  consequences,  to  betray 
your  father  and  all  in  the  ark.  I  understand  the  black 
guards  as  well  as  if  they  told  it  all  out  plainly  with  their 
tongues.  They  hold  up  avarice  afore  me  on  one  side,  and 
fear  on  t'other,  and  think  honesty  will  give  way  atween 
'em  both.  But  let  your  father  and  Hurry  know  'tis  all 
useless  ;  as  for  the  Sarpent,  he  knows  it  already." 

"  But  what  shall  I  tell  Judith  ?  She  will  certainly  send 

me  back  if  I  don't  satisfy  her  mind." 

Aj 
"  Well,  tell  Judith  the  same.    No  doubt  the  savages  will 

try  the  torments  to  make  me  give  in,  and  to  revenge  the 
loss  of  their  warrior,  but  I  must  hold  out  agin  nat'ral  weak 
ness  in  the  best  manner  I  can.  You  may  tell  Judith  to  feel 
no  consarn  on  my  account  —  it  will  cojne  hard,  I  know, 
seeing  that  a  white  man's  gifts  don't  run  to  boasting  and 
singing  under  torment,  for  he  generally  feels  smallest  when 
he  suffers  most  —  but  you  may  tell  her  not  to  have  any 
consarn.  I  think  I  shall  make  out  to  stand  it ;  and  she 
may  rely  on  this,  let  me  give  in  as  much  as  I  may,  and 
prove  completely  that  I  am  white,  by  wailings,  and  howl- 
ings,  and  even  tears,  yet  I  '11  never  fall  so  far  as  to  betray 
my  fri'nds.  When  it  gets  to  burning  holes  in  the  flesh 
with  heated  ramrods,  and  to  hacking  the  body,  and  tearing 
the  hair  out  by  the  roots,  natur'  may  get  the  upper  hand, 
so  far  as  groans  and  complaints  are  consarned,  but  there 
the  triumph  of  the  vagabonds  will  ind;  nothing  short  of 
God's  abandoning  him  to  the  devils  can  make  an  honest 
man  ontrue  to  his  color  and  duty." 

Hetty  listened  with  great  attention,  and  her  mild  but 


222  THE  DEERSLAYER 

speaking  countenance  manifested  a  strong  sympathy  in  the 
anticipated  agony  of  the  supposititious  sufferer.  At  first 
she  seemed  at  a  loss  how  to  act ;  then,  taking  a  hand  of 
Deerslayer's,  she  affectionately  recommended  to  him  to 
borrow  her  Bible,  and  to  read  it  while  the  savages  were 
inflicting  their  torments.  The  offer  was  gently  declined, 
and  Rivenoak  being  about  to  join  them,  Deerslayer  re 
quested  the  girl  to  leave  him  —  first  enjoining  her  again 
to  tell  those  in  the  ark  to  have  full  confidence  in  his 
fidelity.  Hetty  now  walked  away,  and  approached  the 
group  of  females  with  as  much  confidence  and  self- 
possession  as  if  she  were  a  native  of  the  tribe. 

CHAPTER  IV 

The  young  men  who  had  been  sent  out  to  reconnoitre, 
on  the  sudden  appearance  of  Hetty,  soon  returned  to 
report  their  want  of  success  in  making  any  discovery.  A 
watch  was  set,  therefore,  and  all  but  the  sentinels  disposed 
themselves  to  sleep. 

Sufficient  care  was  had  to  the  safe  keeping  of  the  cap 
tive  without  inflicting  on  him  any  unnecessary  suffering ; 
and  as  for  Hetty,  she  was  permitted  to  find  a  place  among 
the  Indian  girls,  in  the  best  manner  she  could.  She  was 
supplied  by  a  kindly  squaw  with  a  skin,  and  made  her  own 
bed  on  a  pile  of  boughs  a  little  apart  from  the  huts.  Here 
she  was  soon  in  a  profound  sleep,  like  all  around  her. 

There  were  now  thirteen  men  in  the  party,  and  three 
kept  watch  at  a  time.  One  remained  in  shadow,  not  far 
from  the  fire,  however.  His  duty  was  to  guard  the  cap 
tive,  to  take  care  that  the  fire  neither  blazed  up  so  as  to 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  223 

illuminate  the  spot,  nor  yet  became  wholly  extinguished  ; 
and  to  keep  an  eye  generally  on  the  state  of  the  camp. 
Another  passed  from  one  beach  to  the  other,  crossing  the 
base  of  the  point ;  while  the  third  kept  moving  slowly 
around  the  strand  on  its  outer  extremity,  to  prevent  a 
repetition  of  the  surprise  that  had  already  taken  place 
that  night. 

It  was  some  hours  later  when  Hetty  awoke,  and  leaving 
her  bed  of  skin  and  boughs,  walked  innocently  and  openly 
to  the  embers  of  the  fire,  stirring  the  latter,  as  the  cool 
ness  of  the  night  and  the  woods  had  a  little  chilled  her. 
As  the  flame  shot  up,  it  lighted  the  swarthy  countenance 
of  the  Huron  on  watch,  whose  dark  eyes  glistened  under 
its  light,  like  the  balls  of  a  panther  that  is  pursued  to  his 
den  with  burning  brands.  But  Hetty  felt  no  fear,  and  she 
approached  the  spot  where  the  Indian  stood.  Her  move 
ments  were  so  natural,  and  so  perfectly  devoid  of  any  of 
the  stealthiness  of  cunning  or  deception,  that  he  imagined 
she  had  merely  arisen  on  account  of  the  coolness  of  the 
night,  a  common  occurrence  in  a  camp,  and  the  one  of 
all  others,  perhaps,  the  least  likely  to  excite  suspicion. 
Hetty  spoke  to  him,  but  he  understood  no  English.  She 
then  gazed  near  a  minute  at  the  sleeping  captive,  and 
moved  slowly  away  in  a  sad  and  melancholy  manner. 

The  girl  took  no  pains  to  conceal  her  movements.  Any 
ingenious  expedient  of  this  nature,  quite  likely,  exceeded 
her  powers  ;  still  her  step  was  habitually  light,  and  scarcely 
audible.  As  she  took  the  direction  of  the  extremity  of 
the  point,  or  the  place  where  she  had  landed  in  the  first 
adventure,  and  where  Hist  had  embarked,  the  sentinel  saw 
her  light  form  gradually  disappear  in  the  gloom  without 


224  THE  DEERSLAYER 

uneasiness  or  changing  his  own  position.  He  knew  that 
others  were  on  the  lookout,  and  he  did  not  believe  that 
one  who  had  twice  come  into  the  camp  voluntarily,  and 
had  already  left  it  openly,  would  take  refuge  in  flight. 

Hetty  soon  found  her  way  to  the  beach,  and  by  follow 
ing  the  margin  of  the  water,  encountered  the  Indian  who 
paced  the  strand  as  sentinel.  This  was  a  young  warrior, 
and  when  he  heard  her  light  tread  coming  along  the 
gravel  he  approached  swiftly,  though  with  anything  but 
menace  in  his  manner.  The  darkness  was  so  intense 
that  it  was  not  easy  to  discover  forms,  within  the  shadows 
of  the  woods,  at  the  distance  of  twenty  feet,  and  quite 
impossible  to  distinguish  persons  until  near  enough  to 
touch  them.  The  young  Huron  manifested  disappoint 
ment  when  he  found  whom  he  had  met ;  for,  truth  to 
say,  he  was  expecting  his  favorite,  who  had  promised  to 
relieve  the  ennui  of  a  midnight  watch  with  her  presence. 
This  man  was  also  ignorant  of  English,  but  he  was  at 
no  loss  to  understand  why  the  girl  should  be  up  at  that 
hour.  Such  things  were  usual  in  an  Indian  village  and 
camp,  where  sleep  is  as  irregular  as  the  meals.  Then 
poor  Hetty's  known  imbecility,  as  in  most  things  con 
nected  with  the  savages,  stood  her  friend  on  this  occasion. 
Vexed  at  his  disappointment,  and  impatient  of  the  pres 
ence  of  one  he  thought  an  intruder,  the  young  warrior 
signed  for  the  girl  to  move  forward,  holding  the  direction 
of  the  beach.  Hetty  complied,  and  came  in  a  moment  to 
the  place  where  the  canoes  had  come  ashore.  Here  she 
spoke  softly,  but  another  footstep  had  caught  the  lover's 
ear,  and  he  was  already  nearly  beyond  the  sound  of  the 
girl's  silvery  voice. 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  225 

"  Here  I  am,  Judith,"  she  said,  "and  there  is  no  one 
near  me." 

Her  voice  was  hushed  by  a  "  Hist!  "  that  came  from 
the  water,  and  then  she  caught  a  dim  view  of  the  canoe, 
which  approached  noiselessly,  and  soon  grated  on  the 
shingle  with  its  bow.  The  moment  the  weight  of  Hetty 
was  felt  in  the  light  craft,  the  canoe  withdrew,  stern  fore 
most,  as  if  possessed  of  life  and  volition,  until  it  was  a 
hundred  yards  from  the  shore.  Then  it  turned,  and  held 
its  way  towards  the  ark.  For  several  minutes  nothing  was 
uttered  ;  but,  believing  herself  to  be  in  a  favorable  posi 
tion  to  confer  with  her  sister,  Judith  began  a  discourse 
which  she  had  been  burning  to  commence  ever  since  they 
quitted  the  point. 

"Here  we  are  safe,  Hetty,"  she  said,  "and  may  talk 
without  the  fear  of  being  overheard.  You  must  speak 
low,  however,  for  sounds  are  heard  far  on  the  water  in  a 
still  night.  I  was  so  close  to  the  point,  some  of  the  time, 
while  you  were  on  it,  that  I  have  heard  the  voices  of  the 
warriors,  and  I  heard  your  shoes  on  the  gravel  of  the 
beach,  even  before  you  spoke.  But  tell  me,  Hetty,  did 
you  see  and  speak  with  Deerslayer  ?  " 

"  Oh,  yes,  there  he  was  seated  near  the  fire,  with  his 
legs  tied,  though  they  left  his  arms  free  to  move  them 
as  he  pleased." 

"Well,  what  did  he  tell  you,  child?  Speak  quick;  I 
am  dying  to  know  what  message  he  sent  me.  Did  you 
tell  him  /  sent  you  ashore,  Hetty,  and  how  much  concern 
I  feel  for  his  misfortune  ?  "  asked  the  other,  impatiently. 

"  I  believe  I  did,  Judith  ;  but  you  know  I  am  feeble 
minded,  and  I  may  have  forgotten.  I  did  tell  him  you 


226  THE  DEERSLAYER 

brought  me  ashore.  And  he  told  me  a  great  deal  that  I 
was  to  say  to  you,  which  I  remember  well,  for  it  made  my 
blood  run  cold  to  hear  him.  He  told  me  to  say  that  his 
friends  —  I  suppose  you  are  one  of  them,  sister" 

"How  can  you  torment  me  thus,  Hetty !  Certainly,  I 
am  one  of  the  truest  friends  he  has  on  earth." 

"  Torment  you !  yes,  now  I  remember  all  about  it.  I 
am  glad  you  used  that  word,  Judith,  for  it  brings  it  all 
back  to  my  mind.  Well,  he  said  he  might  be  tormented 
by  the  savages,  but  he  would  try  to  bear  it  as  becomes 
a  Christian  white  man,  and  that  no  one  need  be  af card  — , 
why  does  Deerslayer  call  it  afeard,  when  mother  always 
taught  us  to  say  afraid  ?  " 

"  Never  mind,  dear  Hetty,  never  mind  that  now !  " 
cried  the  other,  almost  gasping  for  breath.  "  Did  Deer- 
slayer  really  tell  you  that  he  thought  the  savages  would 
put  him  to  the  torture  ?  Recollect  now,  well,  Hetty,  for 
this  is  a  most  awful  and  serious  thing." 

"  Yes,  he  did  ;  and  I  remember  it  by  your  speaking 
about  my  tormenting  you.  Oh,  I  felt  very  sorry  for  him, 
and  Deerslayer  took  it  all  so  quietly  and  without  noise !  " 

Judith  bowed  her  face  between  her  hands,  and  groaned. 

"Tortured  he  shall  not  be,"  she  cried,  ''while  Judith 
Hutter  lives,  and  can  find  means  to  prevent  it." 

The  conversation  was  drawn  out  until  the  elder  sister 
had  extracted  from  the  younger  every  fact  the  feeble  fac 
ulties  of  the  latter  permitted  her  to  retain,  and  to  commu 
nicate.  When  Judith  could  think  of  no  more  questions  to 
ask,  the  canoe  was  paddled  towards  the  scow.  The  intense 
darkness  of  the  night,  and  the  deep  shadows  which  the 
hills  and  forest  cast  upon  the  water,  rendered  it  difficult 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  227 

to  find  the  vessel ;  anchored,  as  it  had  been,  as  close  to 
the  shore  as  a  regard  to  safety  rendered  prudent.  Judith 
was  expert  in  the  management  of  a  bark  canoe,  the  light 
ness  of  which  demanded  skill  rather  than  strength  ;  and 
she  forced  her  own  little  vessel  swiftly  over  the  water. 
Still  no  ark  was  seen.  Several  times  the  sisters  fancied 
they  saw  it  looming  up  in  the  obscurity,  like  a  low  black 
rock,  but  on  each  occasion  it  was  found  to  be  either  an 
optical  illusion  or  some  swell  of  the  foliage  on  the  shore. 

"  Perhaps  father  has  thought  us  in  our  cabin  asleep, 
Judith,  and  has  moved  away  to  go  home,"  suggested 
Hetty.  "  You  know  we  often  move  the  ark  in  the  night." 

'  This  is  true,  Hetty,  and  it  must  be  as  you  suppose. 
There  is  a  little  more  southern  air  than  there  was,  and 
they  have  gone  up  the  lake  " 

Judith  stopped,  for,  as  the  last  word  was  on  her  tongue, 
the  scene  was  suddenly  lighted,  though  only  for  a  single 
instant,  by  a  flash.  The  crack  of  a  rifle  succeeded,  and  then 
followed  the  roll  of  the  echo  along  the  eastern  mountains. 
Almost  at  the  same  moment  a  piercing  female  cry  arose 
in  the  air  in  a  prolonged  shriek.  The  awful  stillness  that 
succeeded  was,  if  possible,  more  appalling  than  the  fierce 
and  sudden  interruption  of  the  deep  silence  of  midnight. 
Resolute  as  she  was,  both  by  nature  and  habit,  Judith 
scarce  breathed,  while  poor  Hetty  hid  her  face  and 
trembled. 

"That  was  a  woman's  cry,  Hetty,"  said  the  former, 
solemnly,  "  and  it  was  a  cry  of  anguish  !  If  the  ark  has 
moved  from  this  spot,  it  can  only  have  gone  north  with 
this  air,  and  the  gun  and  shriek  came  from  the  point. 
Can  anything  have  befallen  Hist  ?  " 


228  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  Let  us  go  and  see,  Judith  ;  she  may  want  our  assist 
ance  —  for  besides  herself,  there  are  none  but  men  in 
the  ark." 

It  was  not  a  moment  for  hesitation,  and  ere  Judith  had 
ceased  speaking  her  paddle  was  in  the  water.  The  dis 
tance  to  the  point,  in  a  direct  line,  was  not  great,  and  the 
impulses  under  which  the  girls  worked  were  too  exciting 
to  allow  them  to  waste  the  precious  moments  in  useless 
precautions.  They  paddled  incautiously,  for  them,  but 
the  same  excitement  kept  others  from  noting  their  move 
ments.  Presently  a  glare  of  light  caught  the  eye  of 
Judith  through  an  opening  in  the  bushes,  and  steering 
by  it  she  so  directed  the  canoe  as  to  keep  it  visible, 
while  she  got  as  near  the  land  as  was  either  prudent 
or  necessary. 

The  scene  that  was  now  presented  to  the  observation  of 
the  girls  was  within  the  woods,  on  the  side  of  the  decliv 
ity  so  often  mentioned,  and  in  plain  view  from  the  boat. 
Here  all  in  the  camp  were  collected,  some  six  or  eight  car 
rying  torches  of  fat-pine,  which  cast  a  strong  but  funereal 
light  on  all  beneath  the  arches  of  the  forest.  With  her 
back  supported  against  a  tree,  and  sustained  on  one  side 
by  the  young  sentinel  whose  remissness  had  suffered  Hetty 
to  escape,  sat  the  female  whose  expected  visit  had  pro 
duced  his  delinquency.  By  the  glare  of  the  torch  that  was 
held  near  her  face,  it  was  evident  that  she  was  in  the  ago 
nies  of  death,  while  the  blood  that  trickled  from  her  bared 
bosom  betrayed  the  nature  of  the  injury  she  had  received. 
The  pungent,  peculiar  smell  of  gunpowder,  too,  was  still 
quite  perceptible  in  the  heavy  damp  night  air.  There 
could  be  no  question  that  she  had  been  shot.  As  to  the 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  229 

effect,  that  was  soon  still  more  apparent,  the  head  of  the 
victim  dropping,  and  the  body  sinking  in  death.  Then  all 
the  torches  but  one  were  extinguished  —  a  measure  of 
prudence ;  and  the  melancholy  train  that  bore  the  body  to 
the  camp  was  just  to  be  distinguished  by  the  glimmering 
light  that  remained. 

Judith  sighed  heavily  and  shuddered,  as  her  paddle 
again  dipped,  and  the  canoe  moved  cautiously  around  the 
point.  A  sight  had  afflicted  her  senses,  and  now  haunted 
her  imagination,  that  was  still  harder  to  be  borne  than 
even  the  untimely  fate  and  passing  agony  of  the  deceased 
girl.  She  had  seen,  under  the  strong  glare  of  all  the 
torches,  the  erect  form  of  Deerslayer,  standing,  with  com 
miseration,  and  as  she  thought  with  shame  depicted  on 
his  countenance,  near  the  dying  female.  He  betrayed 
neither  fear  nor  backwardness,  himself ;  but  it  was  appar 
ent  by  the  glances  cast  at  him  by  the  warriors  that  fierce 
passions  were  struggling  in  their  bosoms.  All  this  seemed 
to  be  unheeded  by  the  captive,  but  it  remained  impressed 
on  the  memory  of  Judith  throughout  the  night. 

No  canoe  was  met  hovering  near  the  point.  A  stillness 
and  darkness,  as  complete  as  if  the  silence  of  the  forest 
had  never  been  disturbed,  or  the  sun  had  never  shone  on 
that  retired  region,  now  reigned  on  the  point,  and  on  the 
gloomy  water,  the  slumbering  woods,  and  even  the  murky 
sky.  No  more  could  be  done,  therefore,  than  to  seek  a 
place  of  safety  ;  and  this  was  only  to  be  found  in  the 
centre  of  the  lake.  Paddling  in  silence  to  that  spot,  the 
canoe  was  suffered  to  drift  northerly,  while  the  girls 
sought  such  repose  as  their  situation  and  feelings  would 
permit. 


230          THE  DEERSLAYER 

CHAPTER  V 

The  fears  of  Judith  concerning  the  disappearance  of  the 
ark  and  the  manner  in  which  the  Indian  girl  had  met  her 
death  were  accurate  in  the  main.  After  sleeping  several 
hours,  her  father  and  March  awoke.  This  occurred  soon 
after  she  had  left  the  ark  to  go  in  quest  of  her  sister,  and 
when  of  course  Chingachgook  and  his  betrothed  were  on 
board.  From  the  Delaware  the  old  man  learned  the  posi 
tion  of  the  camp,  and  the  recent  events,  as  well  as  the  ab 
sence  of  his  daughters.  The  latter  gave  him  no  concern  ; 
for  he  relied  greatly  on  the  sagacity  of  the  eldest,  and  the 
known  impunity  with  which  the  younger  passed  among  the 
savages.  Long  familiarity  with  danger,  too,  had  blunted  his 
sensibilities.  Nor  did  he  seem  much  to  regret  the  captivity 
of  Deerslayer ;  for  while  he  knew  how  material  his  aid  might 
be  in  a  defense,  the  difference  in  their  views  on  the  morality 
of  the  woods  had  not  left  much  sympathy  between  them. 
He  would  have  rejoiced  to  know  the  position  of  the  camp 
before  it  had  been  alarmed  by  the  escape  of  Hist,  but  it 
would  be  too  hazardous  now  to  venture  to  land  ;  and  he 
reluctantly  relinquished  for  the  night  the  ruthless  designs 
that  captivity  and  revenge  had  excited  him  to  entertain. 
In  this  mood  H utter  took  a  seat  in  the  head  of  the  scow, 
where  he  was  quickly  joined  by  Hurry  ;  leaving  the  Ser 
pent  and  Hist  in  quiet  possession  of  the  other  extremity 
of  the  vessel.  Hurry  was  filled  with  resentment  and  anger 
when  he  heard  from  Hutter  the  story  of  what  had  hap 
pened  while  he  slept.  Nor  could  he  brook  the  idea  of 
being  so  near  the  camp  of  his  enemies  without  at  least 
going  in  to  reconnoitre  if  nothing  more.  It  was  at  his 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  231 

suggestion,  therefore,  that  the  ark  had  been  moved,  and 
it  was  his  hand  which  had  fired  the  fatal  shot. 

It  had  happened  in  this  wise.  Floating  Tom  had  sailed 
the  ark  along  as  near  the  land  as  the  depth  of  the  water 
and  the  overhanging  branches  would  allow.  It  was  im 
possible  to  distinguish  anything  that  stood  within  the 
shadows  of  the  shore  ;  but  the  forms  of  the  sail  and  of 
the  hut  were  discerned  by  the  young  sentinel  on  the  beach 
who  has  already  been  mentioned.  In  the  moment  of  sud 
den  surprise,  a  deep  Indian  exclamation  escaped  him.  In 
that  spirit  of  recklessness  and  ferocity  that  formed  the 
essence  of  Hurry's  character,  he  dropped  his  rifle  and 
fired.  The  shriek  announced  the  effects  of  the  random 
shot  of  March,  and  it  also  proclaimed  that  the  victim 
was  a  woman.  Hurry  himself  was  startled  at  these  un 
looked-for  consequences  ;  and  for  a  moment  he  was  sorely 
disturbed  by  conflicting  sensations.  At  first  he  laughed, 
in  reckless  and  rude-minded  exultation  ;  and  then  con 
science,  that  monitor  planted  in  our  breasts  by  God,  shot 
a  pang  to  his  heart.  For  a  minute  the  mind  of  this  crea 
ture  was  a  sort  of  chaos  as  to  feeling,  not  knowing  what 
to  think  of  its  own  act ;  and  then  the  obstinacy  and  pride 
of  one  of  his  habits  interposed  to  assert  their  usual  ascend 
ency.  He  struck  the  butt  of  his  rifle  on  the  bottom  of  the 
scow  with  a  species  of  defiance,  and  began  to  whistle  a  low 
air  with  an  affectation  of  indifference.  All  this  time  the 
ark  was  in  motion,  and  it  was  already  opening  the  bay 
above  the  point,  and  was  consequently  quitting  the  land. 

Hurry's  companions  did  not  view  his  conduct  with  the 
same  indulgence  as  that  with  which  he  appeared  disposed  to 
regard  it  himself.  H utter  growled  out  his  dissatisfaction, 


232  'THE  DEERSLAYER 

for  the  act  led  to  no  advantage,  while  it  threatened  to 
render  the  warfare  more  vindictive  than  ever.  Still  he 
commanded  himself,  the  captivity  of  Deerslayer  rendering 
the  arm  of  the  offender  of  double  consequence  to  him  at 
that  moment.  Chingachgook  arose,  and  for  a  single  in 
stant  the  ancient  animosity  of  tribes  was  forgotten  in  a 
feeling  of  color ;  but  he  recollected  himself  in  season  to 
prevent  any  of  the  fierce  consequences  that  for  a  passing 
moment  he  certainly  meditated.  Not  so  with  Hist.  Rush 
ing  through  the  hut,  or  cabin,  the  girl  stood  at  the  side  of 
Hurry  almost  as  soon  as  his  rifle  touched  the  bottom  of 
the  scow ;  and  with  a  fearlessness  that  did  credit  to  her 
heart  she  poured  out  her  reproaches  with  the  generous 
warmth  of  a  woman. 

"What  for  you  shoot?"  she  said.  "What  Huron  gal 
do,  dat  you  kill  him  ?  What  you  t'ink  Manitou  say  ? 
What  you  t'ink  Manitou  feel  ?  What  Iroquois  do  ?  No 
get  honor  —  no  get  camp  —  no  get  prisoner  —  no  get 
battle  —  no  get  scalp  —  no  get  not'ing  at  all.  Blood  come 
after  blood  !  You  big  as  great  pine  —  Huron  gal  little  slen 
der  birch  —  why  you  fall  on  her  and  crush  her  ?  You  t'ink 
Huron  forget  it  ?  No  ;  redskin  never  forget.  Never  for 
get  friend  ;  never  forget  enemy.  Red-man  Manitou  in 
dat.  Why  you  so  wicked,  great  paleface  ?  " 

Hurry  had  never  been  so  daunted  as  by  this  close  and 
warm  attack  of  the  Indian  girl,  whose  presence  he  had 
hardly  noticed  before.  It  is  true  that  she  had  a  powerful 
ally  in  his  conscience ;  and  while  she  spoke  earnestly,  it 
was  in  tones  so  feminine  as  to  deprive  him  of  any  pretext 
for  unmanly  anger.  Instead  of  resenting  or  answering 
flippantly  the  simple  but  natural  appeal  of  Hist,  he  walked 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  233 

away  like  one  who  disdained  entering  into  a  controversy 
with  a  woman. 

In  the  meanwhile  the  ark  swept  onward,  and  by  the 
time  the  scene  with  the  torches  \vas  enacting  beneath  the 
trees  it  had  reached  the  open  lake  ;  Floating  Tom  causing 
it  to  sheer  further  from  the  land,  with  a  sort  of  instinctive 
dread  of  retaliation.  An  hour  now  passed  in  gloomy 
silence,  no  one  appearing  disposed  to  break  it.  Hist  had 
retired  to  her  pallet,  and  Chingachgook  lay  sleeping  in 
the  forward  part  of  the  scow.  H utter  and  Hurry  alone  re 
mained  awake.  The  former  now  felt  some  little  concern 
about  his  daughters  ;  but,  on  the  whole,  this  uncertainty 
did  not  much  disturb  him,  as  he  had  the  reliance  already 
mentioned  on  the  intelligence  of  Judith. 

It  was  the  season  of  the  shortest  nights,  and  it  was  not 
long  before  the  deep  obscurity  which  precedes  the  day  be 
gan  to  yield  to  the  returning  light.  As  soon  as  the  light 
was  sufficiently  strong  to  allow  of  a  distinct  view  of  the 
lake,  H  utter  turned  the  head  of  the  ark  directly  towards  the 
castle,  with  the  intention  of  taking  possession  for  the  day 
at  least,  as  the  place  most  favorable  for  meeting  his  daugh 
ters,  and  for  carrying  on  his  operations  against  the  Indians. 
By  this  time,  Chingachgook  was  up,  and  Hist  was  heard 
stirring  among  the  furniture  of  the  kitchen.  At  this  mo 
ment,  too,  to  render  the  appearances  generally  auspicious, 
the  canoe  of  Judith  was  seen  floating  northward  in  the 
broadest  part  of  the  lake,  having  actually  passed  the  scow 
in  the  darkness.  Hutter  got  his  glass,  and  took  a  long 
and  anxious  survey  to  ascertain  if  his  daughters  were  in 
the  light  craft,  or  not ;  and  a  slight  exclamation  like  that 
of  joy  escaped  him,  as  he  caught  a  glimpse  of  what  he 


234  THE  DEERSLAYER 

rightly  conceived  to  be  a  part  of  Judith's  dress  above  the 
top  of  the  canoe.  At  the  next  instant  the  girl  arose,  and 
was  seen  gazing  about  her,  like  one  assuring  herself  of 
her  situation.  A  minute  later  Hetty  was  seen  on  her 
knees,  in  the  other  end  of  the  canoe,  repeating  the  prayers 
that  had  been  taught  her  in  childhood  by  a  misguided  but 
repentant  mother.  As  Hutter  laid  down  the  glass,  still 
drawn  to  its  focus,  the  Serpent  raised  it  to  his  eye  and 
turned  it  towards  the  canoe.  It  was  the  first  time  he  had 
ever  used  such  an  instrument,  and  Hist  understood  by  his 
"  Hugh  !  "  the  expression  of  his  face,  and  his  entire  mien, 
that  something  wonderful  had  excited  his  admiration.  It 
is  well  known  that  the  American  Indians,  more  particu 
larly  those  of  superior  character  and  stations,  singularly 
maintain  their  self-possession  and  stoicism  in  the  midst 
of  the  flood  of  marvels  that  present  themselves  in  their 
occasional  visits  to  the  abodes  of  civilization  ;  and  Chin- 
gachgook  had  imbibed  enough  of  this  impassibility  to  sup 
press  any  very  undignified  manifestation  of  surprise.  With 
Hist,  however,  no  such  law  was  binding,  and  when  her 
lover  managed  to  bring  the  glass  in  a  line  with  a  canoe, 
and  her  eye  was  applied  to  the  smaller  end,  the  girl  started 
back  in  alarm  ;  then  she  clapped  her  hands  with  delight, 
and  a  laugh,  the  usual  attendant  of  untutored  admiration, 
followed.  A  few  minutes  sufficed  to  enable  this  quick 
witted  girl  to  manage  the  instrument  for  herself,  and  she 
directed  it  at  every  prominent  object  that  struck  her  fancy. 
Finding  a  rest  in  one  of  the  windows,  she  and  the  Dela 
ware  first  surveyed  the  lake ;  then  the  shores,  the  hills, 
and  finally  the  castle  attracted  their  attention.  After  a 
long  steady  gaze  at  the  latter,  Hist  took  away  her  eye, 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  235 

arid  spoke  to  her  lover  in  a  low,  earnest  manner.  Chin- 
gachgook  immediately  placed  his  eye  to  the  glass,  and  his 
look  even  exceeded  that  of  his  betrothed  in  length  and 
intensity.  Again  they  spoke  together  confidentially,  ap 
pearing  to  compare  opinions,  after  which  the  glass  was 
laid  aside,  and  the  young  warrior  quitted  the  cabin  to  join 
H utter  and  Hurry. 

The  ark  was  slowly  but  steadily  advancing,  and  the 
castle  was  materially  within  half  a  mile,  when  Chingach- 
gook  joined  the  two  white  men  in  the  stern  of  the  scow. 
His  manner  was  calm,  but  it  was  evident  that  he  had 
something  to  communicate.  Hurry  was  generally  prompt 
to  speak,  and  according  to  custom,  he  took  the  lead  on 
this  occasion. 

"  Out  with  it,  redskin,"  he  cried,  in  his  usual  rough 
manner.  "  Have  you  discovered  a  chipmunk  in  a  tree,  or 
is  there  a  salmon-trout  swimming  under  the  bottom  of  the 
scow  ?  You  find  what  a  paleface  can  do  in  the  way  of  eyes, 
now,  Sarpent,  and  must  n't  wonder  that  they  can  see  the 
land  of  the  Indians  from  afar  off." 

"  No  good  to  go  to  castle,"  put  in  Chingachgook  with 
emphasis,  the  moment  the  other  gave  him  an  opportunity 
of  speaking.  "  Huron  there." 

"The  devil  he  is  !  If  this  should  turn  out  to  be  true, 
Floating  Tom,  a  pretty  trap  were  we  about  to  pull  down 
on  our  heads  !  Huron  there  !  —  well,  this  may  be  so  ;  but 
no  signs  can  I  see  of  anything  near  or  about  the  old  hut 
but  logs,  water,  and  bark  —  'bating  two  or  three  windows 
and  one  door." 

H  utter  called  for  the  glass  and  took  a  careful  survey  of 
the  spot  before  he  ventured  an  opinion  at  all ;  then  he 


236  THE  DEERSLAYER 

somewhat  cavalierly  expressed  his  dissent  from  that  given 
by  the  Indian. 

"  You  've  got  this  glass  wrong  end  foremost,  Delaware," 
continued  Hurry  ;  "  neither  the  old  man  nor  I  can  see 
any  trail  in  the  lake." 

"  No  trail  —  water  make  no  trail,"  said  Hist,  eagerly. 
"  Stop  boat  —  no  go  too  near —  Huron  there  !  " 

"  Aye,  that 's  it !  Stick  to  the  same  tale  and  more 
people  will  believe  you.  I  hope,  Sarpent,  you  and  your 
gal  will  agree  in  telling  the  same  story  arter  marriage  as 
well  as  you  do  now.  Huron  there  !  —  whereabouts  is  he 
to  be  seen  —  in  the  padlock,  or  the  chains,  or  the  logs  ?  " 

"  No  see  moccasin  !  "  said  Hist,  impatiently,  "why  no 
look  and  see  him  ?  " 

"  Give  me  the  glass,  Hurry,"  interrupted  H utter,  "  and 
lower  the  sail.  It  is  seldom  that  an  Indian  woman  med 
dles,  and  when  she  does  there  is  generally  a  cause  for  it. 
There  is,  truly,  a  moccasin  floating  against  one  of  the 
piles ;  and  it  may  or  may  not  be  a  sign  that  the  castle 
has  n't  escaped  visitors  in  our  absence.  Moccasins  are  no 
rarities,  however,  for  I  wear  'em,  myself,. and  Deerslayer 
wears  'em,  and  you  wear  'em,  March ;  and  for  that  mat 
ter  so  does  Hetty,  quite  as  often  as  she  wears  shoes  ; 
though  I  never  yet  saw  Judith  thrust  her  pretty  foot  in 
a  moccasin." 

Hurry  had  lowered  the  sail,  and  by  this  time  the  ark  was 
within  two  hundred  yards  of  the  castle,  setting  in  nearer 
and  nearer  each  moment.  Each  now  took  the  glass  in  turn, 
and  the  castle  and  everything  near  it  was  subjected  to  a 
scrutiny  still  more  rigid  than  ever.  There  the  moccasin 
lay,  beyond  a  question,  floating  so  lightly  and  preserving 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  237 

its  form  so  well  that  it  was  scarcely  wet.  It  had  caught 
by  a  piece  of  the  rough  bark  of  one  of  the  piles  on  the 
exterior  of  the  water-palisade  that  formed  the  dock  already 
mentioned,  which  circumstance  alone  prevented  it  from 
drifting  away  before  the  air.  There  were  many  modes, 
however,  of  accounting  for  the  presence  of  the  moccasin 
without  supposing  it  to  have  been  dropped  by  an  enemy. 
It  might  have  fallen  from  the  platform  even  while  Hutter 
was  in  possession  of  the  place,  and  drifted  to  the  spot 
where  it  was  now  seen,  remaining  unnoticed  until  detected 
by  the  acute  vision  of  Hist.  It  might  have  drifted  from 
a  distance,  up  or  down  the  lake,  and  accidentally  become 
attached  to  the  pile  or  palisade.  It  might  have  been  thrown 
from  a  window  and  alighted  in  that  particular  place  ;  or  it 
might  certainly  have  fallen  from  a  scout  or  an  assailant 
during  the  past  night,  who  was  obliged  to  abandon  it  to 
the  lake  in  the  deep  obscurity  which  then  prevailed. 

All  these  conjectures  passed  from  Hutter  to  Hurry, 
the  former  appearing  disposed  to  regard  the  omen  as  a 
little  sinister,  while  the  latter  treated  it  with  his  usual 
reckless  disdain.  As  for  the  Indian,  he  was  of  opinion 
that  the  moccasin  should  be  viewed  as  one  would  regard 
a  trail  in  the  woods  which  might  or  might  not  equally 
prove  to  be  threatening.  Hist,  however,  had  something 
available  to  propose.  She  declared  her  readiness  to  take 
a  canoe,  to  proceed  to  the  palisade,  and  bring  away  the 
moccasin,  when  its  ornaments  would  show  whether  it 
came  from  the  Canadas  or  not.  Both  the  white  men  were 
disposed  to  accept  this  offer  ;  but  the  Delaware  interfered 
to  prevent  the  risk.  If  such  a  service  was  to  be  under 
taken,  it  best  became  a  warrior  to  expose  himself  in  its 


238  THE  DEERSLAYER 

execution ;  and  he  gave  his  refusal  to  let  his  betrothed 
proceed,  much  in  the  quiet  but  brief  manner  in  which  an 
Indian  husband  issues  his  commands. 

"  Well,  then,  Delaware,  go  yourself  if  you  're  so  tender 
of  your  squaw,"  put  in  the  unceremonious  Hurry.  "That 
moccasin  must  be  had,  or  Floating  Tom  will  keep  off  here 
at  arm's  length  till  the  hearth  cools  in  his  cabin.  It 's  but 
a  little  deerskin  arter  all,  and  cut  this-a-way  or  that-a-way, 
it 's  not  a  skear-crow  to  frighten  true  hunters  from  their 
game.  What  say  you,  Sarpent,  shall  you  or  I  canoe  it  ?  " 

"Let  red-man  go.  Better  eyes  than  paleface  —  know 
Huron  trick  better,  too." 

"  That  I  '11  gainsay,  to  the  hour  of  my  death  !  A  white 
man's  eyes,  and  a  white  man's  nose,  and  for  that  matter 
his  sight  and  ears,  are  all  better  than  an  Injin's  when 
fairly  tried.  Time  and  agin  have  I  put  that  to  the  proof, 
and  what  is  proved  is  sartain.  Still  I  suppose  the  poorest 
vagabond  going,  whether  Delaware  or  Huron,  can  find 
his  way  to  yonder  hut  and  back  agin  ;  and  so,  Sarpent, 
use  your  paddle  and  welcome." 

Chingachgook  was  already  in  the  canoe,  and  he  dipped 
the  implement  the  other  named  into  the  water,  just  as 
Hurry's  limber  tongue  ceased.  The  Indian  chief  paddled 
steadily  towards  the  palisades,  keeping  his  eye  on  the 
different  loops  of  the  building.  Each  instant  he  expected 
to  see  the  muzzle  of  a  rifle  protruded,  or  to  hear  its 
sharp  crack ;  but  he  succeeded  in  reaching  the  piles  in 
safety.  Here  he  was,  in  a  measure,  protected,  having  the 
heads  of  the  palisades  between  him  and  the  hut ;  and  the 
chances  of  any  attempt  on  his  life,  while  thus  covered, 
were  greatly  diminished.  The  canoe  had  reached  the  piles 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  239 

with  its  head  inclining  northward  and  at  a  short  distance 
from  the  moccasin.  Instead  of  turning  to  pick  up  the 
latter,  the  Delaware  slowly  made  the  circuit  of  the  whole 
building,  deliberately  examining  every  object  that  should 
betray  the  presence  of  enemies,  or  the  commission  of 
violence.  Not  a  single  sign  could  be  discovered,  however, 
to  confirm  the  suspicions  that  had  been  awakened.  The 
stillness  of  desertion  pervaded  the  building ;  not  a  fasten 
ing  was  displaced ;  not  a  window  had  been  broken.  The 
door  looked  as  secure  as  at  the  hour  when  it  was  closed 
by  H  utter,  and  even  the  gate  of  the  dock  had  all  the 
customary  fastenings.  In  short,  the  most  wary  and  jealous 
eye  could  detect  no  other  evidence  of  the  visit  of  enemies 
than  that  which  was  connected  with  the  appearance  of  the 
floating  moccasin. 

The  Delaware  was  now  greatly  at  a  loss  how  to  pro 
ceed.  At  one  moment,  as  he  came  round  in  front  of  the 
castle,  he  was  on  the  point  of  stepping  up  on  the  plat 
form,  and  of  applying  his  ^eye  to  one  of  the  loops,  with  a 
view  of  taking  a  direct  personal  inspection  of  the  state  of 
things  within ;  but  he  hesitated.  Though  of  little  experi 
ence  in  such  matters  himself,  he  had  heard  so  much  of 
Indian  artifices  through  traditions,  had  listened  with  such 
breathless  interest  to  the  narration  of  the  escapes  of  the 
elder  warriors,  and,  in  short,  was  so  well  schooled  in  the 
theory  of  his  calling,  that  it  was  almost  impossible  for 
him  to  make  any  gross  blunder  on  such  an  occasion. 
Relinquishing  the  momentary  intention  to  land,  the  chief 
slowly  pursued  his  course  round  the  palisades.  As  he 
approached  -the  moccasin  —  having  now  nearly  completed 
the  circuit  of  the  building  —  he  threw  the  ominous  article 


240  THE  DEERSLAYER 

into  the  canoe,  "by  a  dexterous  and  almost  imperceptible 
movement  of  his  paddle.  He  was  now  ready  to  depart; 
but  retreat  was  even  more  dangerous  than  the  approach, 
as  the  eye  could  no  longer  be  riveted  on  the  loops.  If 
there  was  really  any  one  in  the  castle,  the  motive  of  the 
Delaware  in  reconnoitring  must  be  understood  ;  and  it 
was  the  wisest  way,  however  perilous  it  might  be,  to  retire 
with  an  air  of  confidence,  as  if  all  distrust  were  terminated 
by  the  examination.  Such,  accordingly,  was  the  course 
adopted  by  the  Indian,  who  paddled  deliberately  away, 
taking  the  direction  of  the  ark,  suffering  no  nervous 
impulse  to  quicken  the  motions  of  his  arms,  or  to  induce 
him  to  turn  even  a  furtive  glance  behind  him. 

Joy  sparkled  in  Hist's  dark  eyes,  and  a  smile  lighted 
her  pretty  mouth,  as  she  saw  the  Great  Serpent  of  the 
Delawares  step  unharmed  into  the  ark ;  but,  after  the 
custom  of  Indian  women,  she  neither  spoke  nor  moved. 

"Well,  Sarpent,"  cried  Hurry,  always  the  first  to  speak, 
"  what  news  from  the  Muskrats  ?  Did  they  show  their 
teeth,  as  you  surrounded  their  dwelling  ?  " 

"  I  no  like  him,"  sententiously  returned  the  Delaware. 
"  Too  still.  So  still,  can  see  silence  !  " 

"That's  downright  Injin  —  as  if  anything  could  make 
less  noise  than  nothing  !  If  you  've  no  better  reason  than 
this  to  give,  Old  Tom  had  better  hoist  his  sail,  and  go 
and  get  his  breakfast  under  his  own  roof.  What  has 
become  of  the  moccasin  ?  " 

"  Here,"  returned  Chingachgook,  holding  up  his  prize 
for  the  general  inspection. 

The  moccasin  was  examined,  and  Hist  confidently  pro 
nounced  it  to  be  Huron,  by  the  manner  in  which  the 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  241 

porcupine's  quills  were  arranged  on  its  front.  H utter,  and 
the  Delaware,  too,  were  decidedly  of  the  same  opinion. 
Admitting  all  this,  however,  it  did  not  necessarily  follow 
that  its  owners  were  in  the  castle.  The  moccasin  might 
have  drifted  from  a  distance,  or  it  might  have  fallen  from 
the  foot  of  some  scout,  who  had  quitted  the  place  when 
his  errand  was  accomplished.  In  short,  it  explained 
nothing,  while  it  awakened  so  much  distrust. 

Under  these  circumstances,  Hutter  and  Harry  were  not 
men  to  be  long  deterred  from  proceeding,  by  proofs  as 
slight  as  that  of  the  moccasin.  They  hoisted  the  sail  again, 
and  the  ark  was  soon  in  motion,  heading  towards  the 
castle.  The  wind,  or  air,  continued  light,  and  the  move 
ment  was  sufficiently  slow  to  allow  of  a  deliberate  survey 
of  the  building  as  the  scow  approached. 

The  same  deathlike  silence  reigned,  and  it  was  difficult 
to  fancy  that  anything  possessing  animal  life  could  be  in 
or  around  the  place.  Unlike  the  Serpent,  whose  imagina 
tion  had  acted  through  his  traditions  until  he  was  ready  to 
perceive  an  artificial  in  a  natural  stillness,  the  others  saw 
nothing  to  apprehend  in  a  tranquillity  that,  in  truth,  merely 
denoted  the  repose, of  inanimate  objects.  The  accessories 
of  the  scene,  too,  were  soothing  and  calm,  rather  than  ex 
citing.  The  day  had  not  yet  advanced  so  far  as  to  bring 
the  sun  above  the  horizon,  but  the  heavens,  the  atmos 
phere,  and  the  woods  and  lake,  were  all  seen  under  that 
softening  light  which  immediately  precedes  his  appearance, 
and  which,  perhaps,  is  the  most  witching  period  of  the 
four-and-twenty  hours.  It  is  the  moment  when  everything 
is  distinct,  even  the  atmosphere  seeming  to  possess  a  liquid 
lucidity,  the  hues  appearing  gray  and  softened. 


242  THE  DEERSLAYER 

CHAPTER  VI 

The  moment  the  head  of  the  scow  was  within  reach  of 
the  castle,  Hurry  was  on  the  platform,  stamping  his  feet, 
and  proclaiming  his  indifference  to  the  whole  Huron  tribe 
in  his  customary  noisy,  dogmatical  manner.  H utter  had 
hauled  a  canoe  up  to  the  head  of  the  scow,  and  was  already 
about  to  undo  the  fastenings  of  the  gate,  in  order  to  enter 
within  the  dock.  March  had  no  other  motive  in  landing 
than  a  senseless  bravado,  and  having  shaken  the  door  in 
a  manner  to  put  its  solidity  to  the  proof,  he  joined  Hutter 
in  the  canoe,  and  began  to  aid  him  in  opening  the  gate. 
On  entering  the  canoe,  Hutter  had  placed  a  line  in  the 
Delaware's  hand,  intimating  that  the  other  was  to  fasten 
the  ark  to  the  platform  and  to  lower  the  sail.  Instead  of 
following  these  directions,  however,  Chingachgook  left  the 
sail  standing,  and  throwing  the  bight  of  the  rope  over  the 
head  of  a  pile,  he  permitted  the  ark  to  drift  round  until  it 
lay  against  the  defenses  in  a  position  where  it  could  be 
entered  only  by  means  of  a  boat. 

A  single  shove  sent  the  canoe  from  the  gate  to  the  trap 
beneath  the  castle.  Here  Hutter  found  all  fast,  neither 
padlock  nor  chain  nor  bar  having  been  molested.  The  key 
was  produced,  the  locks  removed,  the  chain  loosened,  and 
the  trap  pushed  upward.  Hurry  now  thrust  his  head  in  at 
the  opening  ;  the  arms  followed,  and  the  colossal  legs  rose 
without  any  apparent  effort.  At  the  next  instant,  his  heavy 
foot  was  heard  stamping  in  the  passage  above  ;  that  which 
separated  the  chambers  of  the  father  and  daughters,  and 
into  which  the  trap  opened.  He  then  gave  a  shout  of 
triumph. 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  243 

"  Come  on,  old  Tom,"  the  reckless  woodsman  called 
om  within  the  building  ;  "  here  's  your  tenement,  safe 
and  ^ound ;  aye,  and  as  empty  as  a  nut  that  has  passed 
half  am  hour  in  the  paws  of  a  squirrel !  The  Delaware  brags 
of  Keing  able  to  see  silence ;  let  him  come  here,  and  he 
may  feel  it  in  the  bargain." 

'•'Any  silence  where  you  are,  Hurry  Harry,"  returned 
Huttei-:,  thrusting  his  head  in  at  the  hole,  "ought  to  be 
both  seen  and  felt,  for  it 's  unlike  any  other  silence." 

",-Come,  come,  old  fellow  ;  hoist  yourself  up,  and  we  '11 
opeln  doors  and  windows  and  let  in  the  fresh  air  to  brighten 
up  {matters. " 

A  moment  of  silence  succeeded,  and  a  noise  like  that 
produced  by  the  fall  of  a  heavy  body  followed.  A  deep 
execration  from  Hurry  succeeded,  and  then  the  whole  in 
terior  of  tthe  building  seemed  alive.  The  noises  that  now 
so  suddenly  broke  the  stillness  within  could  not  be  mis 
taken.  They  resembled  those  that  would  be  produced  by 
a  struggle^  between  tigers  in  a  cage.  Once  or  twice  the 
Indian  yellj  was  given,  but  it  seemed  smothered,  and  as  if 
it  proceeded  from  exhausted  or  compressed  throats  ;  and, 
in  a  single,  instance,  another  execration  came  from  the 
throat  of  H^urry.  It  appeared  as  if  bodies  were  constantly 
thrown  upojn  the  floor  with  violence,  as  often  rising  to  re 
new  the  struggle.  Chingachgook  felt  greatly  at  a  loss  what 
to  do.  He  had  all  the  arms  in  the  ark,  H utter  and  Hurry 
having  proceeded  without  their  rifles  ;  but  there  was  no 
means  of  using  them,  or  of  passing  them  to  the  hands 
of  their  owners.  The  combatants  were  literally  caged, 
rendering  it  almost  as  impossible,  under  the  circumstances, 
to  get  out,  as  to«  get  into  the  building.  At  this  instant 


244  THE  DEERSLAYER 

the  door  flew  open  and  the  fight  was  transferred  to  th»e 
platform,  the  light,  and  the  open  air. 

A  Huron  had  undone  the  fastenings  of  the  door/,  and 
three  or  four  of  his  tribe  rushed  after  him  upon  th«e  nar 
row  space.  The  body  of  another  followed,  pitched  htead- 
long  through  the  door,  with  terrific  violence.  Then  Mairch 
appeared,  raging  like  a  lion  at  bay,  and  for  an  instant  frreed 
from  his  numerous  enemies.  Hutter  was  already  evidently  ' 
a  captive  and  bound.  There  was  now  a  pause  i  in  the 
struggle,  which  resembled  a  lull  in  a  tempest.  The?  ne 
cessity  of  breathing  was  common  to  all,  and  the  comibat- 
ants  stood  watching  each  other,  like  mastiffs  that  tyave 
been  driven  from  their  holds,  and  are  waiting  for  a  faivor- 
able  opportunity  of  renewing  them. 

Hurry  was  the  first  to  resume  hostilities,  and  his  onset 
was  furious.  He  seized  the  nearest  Huron  by  the  waist, 
raised  him  entirely  from  the  platform,  and  hurled!  him  into 
the  water,  as  if  he  had  been  a  child.  In  half  a  minute  two 
more  were  at  his  side,  one  of  whom  received  a  grave  in 
jury  by  falling  on  the  friend  who  had  just  preceded  him. 
But  four  enemies  remained,  and  in  a  hand-to-hand  con 
flict,  in  which  no  arms  were  used  but  those  which  nature 
had  furnished,  Hurry  believed  himself  fully  able  to  cope 
with  that  number  of  redskins. 

''Hurrah!  Old  Tom,"  he  shouted;  "the  rascals  are 
taking  to  the  lake,  and  I  '11  soon  have  'em  all  swimming !  " 
As  these  words  were  uttered,  a  violent,  kick  in  the  face 
sent  back  the  injured  Indian,  who  had  caught  at  the  edge 
of  the  platform  and  was  endeavoring  to  raise  himself  to 
its  level,  helplessly  and  hopelessly  into  the  water.  A  blow, 
sent  into  the  pit  of  another's  stomach,  doubled  him  up 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  245 

like  a  fvorm  ;  and  but  two  able-bodied  foes  remained  to 
be 'dealt  tvith:  -One  of  these,  however,  was  not  only  the 
largest^  and  str6ngest  of  the  Hurons,  but  he  was  also  the 
most 'experienced,  of  the  warriors  present,  and  that  one 
whose '  smews'  were  the  best  strung  in  fights,  and  by 
marches  on  the  wajpath.  This  man  fully  appreciated  the 
gigantic  strength  of  his  opponent,  and  had  carefully  hus 
banded  his  own.  I  Ic  was  also  equipped  in  the  best  manner 
for  such  a  conflict,  standing  in  nothing  but  his  breech- 
cloth,  the  model  of  a  naked  and  beautiful  statue  of  agility 
and  strength.  To  grasp- him  required  additional  dexterity 
and  unusual  forcer  Still  Hurry  did  not  hesitate ;  but  the 
kick,  that  had  actuary  destroyed  one  fellow-creature,  was 
no  sooner  given  than  he  closed  in  with  this  formidable 
antagonist,  endeavoring  to  force  him  into  the  water  also. 
The  struggle  that  succeeded  was  truly  frightful.  So  fierce 
did  it  immediately  become,  and  so  quick  and  changeful 
were  the  evolutions  of  the  athletes,  that  the  remaining 
savage  had  no  chance  for  interfering  had  he  possessed  the 
desire ;  but  he  was  an  inexperienced  youth,  and  wonder 
and  apprehension  held  him  spellbound. 

Hurry  first  attempted  to  throw  his  antagonist.  With 
this  view  he  seized  him  by  the  throat  and  an  arm,  and  en 
deavored  to  trip  him.  The  effect  was  frustrated  by  the 
agile  movements  of  the  Huron,  who  had  clothes  to  grasp 
by,  and  whose  feet  avoided  the  attempt  with  a  nimbleness 
equal  to  that  with  which  it  was  made.  Then  followed  a 
sharp  struggle,  in  which  no  efforts  were  distinctly  visible, 
the  limbs  and  bodies  of  the  combatants  assuming  so 
many  attitudes  and  contortions  as  to  defeat  observation. 
This  confused  but  fierce  rally  lasted  less  than  a  minute, 


246  THE  DEERSLAYER 

however,  when  Hurry,  furious  at  having  his  strength  baf 
fled  by  the  agility  and  nakedness  of  his  foe,  made  a  .-des 
perate  effort,  which  sent  the  Huron  from  him,  -hurling  his 
body  violently  against  the  logs  of  the  hut,  The  concussion 
was  so  great  as  momentarily  to  confute  the  latter' s  facul 
ties.  The  pain,  too,  extorted  a  deeppgrpan  ;  #&  ^unusual 
concession  to  agony  to  escape  a  red-maij  in  th#  heat  of 
battle.  Still  he  rushed  forward  again,  to  meet  his  enemy, 
conscious  that  his  safety  rested  o«  $is  resolution.  Hurry 
now  seized  the  other  by  the  waisjs,  raised  him.  bodily  from 
the  platform,  and  fell  with  his  OWG  groat  weight  on  the 
form  beneath.  This  additional  shock  «'o  -far  stunned  the 
sufferer  that  his  gigantic  white  opponent  now  had  him 
completely  at  his  mercy. 

Passing  his  hands  round  the  throat  of  his  victim,  he 
compressed  them  with  the  strength  of  a  vice,  fairly  dou 
bling  the  head  of  the  Huron  over  the  edge  of  the  plat 
form,  until  the  chin  was  uppermost,  with  the  infernal 
strength  he  expended.  An  instant  sufficed  to  show  the 
consequences.  The  eyes  of  the  sufferer  seemed  to  start 
forward,  his  tongue  protruded,  and  his  nostrils  dilated 
nearly  to  splitting.  At  this  instant  a  rope  of  bark,  hav 
ing  an  eye,  was  passed  dexterously  within  the  two  arms  of 
Hurry ;  the  end  threaded  the  eye,  forming  a  noose,  and 
his  elbows  were  drawn  together  behind  his  back,  with  a 
power  that  all  his  gigantic  strength  could  not  resist.  Al 
most  at  the  same  instant  a  similar  fastening  secured  his 
ankles,  and  his  body  was  rolled  to  the  centre  of  the  plat 
form  as  helplessly,  and  as  cavalierly,  as  if  it  were  a  log  of 
wood  ;  and  his  rescued  antagonist  began  again  to  breathe. 

Hurry  owed  his  defeat  and  capture  to  the  intensity  with 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  247 

which  he  had  concentrated  all  his  powers  on  his  fallen 
foe.  While  thus  occupied,  the  two  Indians  he  had  hurled 
into  the  water  mounted  to  the  heads  of  the  piles,  along 
which  they  passed,  and  joined  their  companion  on  the 
platform.  The  latter  had  so  far  rallied  his  faculties  as  to 
have  got  the  ropes,  which  were  in  readiness  for  use  as  the 
others  appeared,  and  they  were  applied  in  the  manner 
related,  as  Hurry  lay  pressing  his  enemy  down  with  his 
whole  weight,  intent  only  on  strangling  him.  Thus  were 
the  tables  turned,  in  a  single  moment ;  he  who  had  been 
so  near  achieving  victory  lying  helpless,  bound,  and  a  cap 
tive.  So  fearful  had  been  the  efforts  of  the  paleface,  and 
so  prodigious  the  strength  he  exhibited,  that  even  as  he 
lay  tethered  like  a  sheep  before  them,  they  regarded  him 
with  respect  and  not  without  dread. 

CHAPTER  VII 

Chingachgook  and  his  betrothed  witnessed  the  whole 
of  this  struggle  from  the  ark.  When  the  three  Hurons 
were  about  to  pass  the  cords  around  the  arms  of  the 
prostrate  Hurry,  the  Delaware  sought  his  rifle  ;  but  before 
he  could  use  it  the  white  man  was  bound,  and  the  mis 
chief  was  done.  The  canoe  of  the  girls,  by  the  time  the 
struggle  on  the  platform  had  ceased,  was  within  three 
hundred  yards  of  the  castle,  and  here  Judith  ceased  pad 
dling,  the  evidences  of  strife  first  becoming  apparent  to 
the  eyes.  She  and  Hetty  were  standing  erect,  anxiously 
endeavoring  to  ascertain  what  had  occurred,  but  unable  to 
satisfy  their  doubts,  from  the  circumstance  that  the  build 
ing  in  a  great  measure  concealed  the  scene  of  action. 


248  THE  DEERSLAYER 

The  parties  in  the  ark  and  in  the  canoe  were  indebted 
to  the  ferocity  of  Hurry's  attack  for  their  momentary  se 
curity.  In  any  ordinary  case,  the  girls  would  have  been 
immediately  captured ;  only  the  attack  of  Hurry  on  the 
principal  man  of  the  party  had  saved  them  from  the  at 
tention  of  the  other  Indians.  Now  it  was  of  the  last  impor 
tance  that  Judith  and  her  sister  should  seek  immediate 
refuge  in  the  ark,  where  the  defenses  offered  a  temporary 
shelter  at  least. 

Chingachgook  lost  no  time  in  hoisting  the  sail.  What 
ever  might  be  in  reserve  for  him,  there  could  be  no  ques 
tion  that  it  was  every  way  desirable  to  get  the  ark  at  such 
a  distance  from  the  castle,  as  to  reduce  his  enemies  to 
the  necessity  of  approaching  the  former  in  the  canoe, 
which  the  chances  of  war  had  so  inopportunely  for  his 
wishes  and  security  thrown  into  their  hands.  The  appear 
ance  of  the  opening  sail  seemed  first  to  arouse  the  Hu- 
rons  from  their  apathy  ;  and  by  the  time  the  head  of  the 
scow  had  fallen  off  before  the  wind,  which  it  did  unfor 
tunately  in  the  wrong  direction,  bringing  it  within  a  few 
yards  of  the  platform,  Hist  found  it  necessary  to  warn  her 
lover  of  the  importance  of  covering  his  person  against  the 
rifles  of  his  foes.  This  was  a  danger  to  be  avoided  under 
all  circumstances,  and  so  much  the  more,  because  the 
Delaware  found  that  Hist  would  not  take  to  the  cover 
herself,  so  long  as  he  remained  exposed.  Accordingly, 
Chingachgook  abandoned  the  scow  to  its  own  movements, 
forced  Hist  into  the  cabin,  the  doors  of  which  he  immedi 
ately  secured,  and  then  he  looked  about  him  for  the  rifles. 

As  the  ark  swung  slowly  round,  the  head  caught  be 
tween  two  of  the  piles,  which  projected  several  feet  beyond 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  249 

the  platform,  and  hung  there.  At  this  moment  the  Dela 
ware  was  vigilantly  watching  through  a  loophole  for  an  op 
portunity  to  fire,  and  the  Hurons,  who  had  withdrawn  to 
the  shelter  of  the  building  to  do  the  same,  were  similarly 
occupied.  The  exhausted  warrior  reclined  against  the  hut, 
there  having  been  no  time  to  remove  him,  and  Hurry  lay, 
almost  as  helpless  as  a  log,  tethered  like  a  sheep  on  its 
way  to  the  slaughter,  near  the  middle  of  the  platform. 

"  Run  out  one  of  the  poles,  Sarpent,  if  Sarpent  you  be," 
said  Hurry,  amid  the  groans  that  the  tightness  of  the  liga 
tures  was  beginning  to  extort  from  him  ;  "  run  out  one  of 
the  poles,  and  shove  the  head  of  the  scow  off,  and  you  '11 
drift  clear  of  us  —  and,  when  you  've  done  that  good  turn 
for  yourself,  just  finish  this  gagging  blackguard  for  me" 

The  appeal  of  Hurry,  however,  had  no  other  effect  than 
to  draw  the  attention  of  Hist  to  his  situation.  This  quick 
witted  creature  comprehended  it  at  a  glance.  His  ankles 
were  bound  with  several  turns  of  stout  bark  rope,  and  his 
arms,  above  the  elbows,  were  similarly  secured  behind 
his  back,  barely  leaving  him  a  little  play  of  the  hands 
and  wrists.  Putting  her  mouth  near  a  loop,  she  said,  in 
a  low  but  distinct  voice  :  — 

"  Why  you  don't  roll  here,  and  fall  in  scow  ?  Chingach- 
gook  shoot  Huron  if  he  chase  !  " 

"  By  the  Lord,  gal,  that 's  a  judgmatical  thought,  and 
it  shall  be  tried,  if  the  starn  of  your  scow  will  come  a  little 
nearer.  Put  a  bed  at  the  bottom  for  me  to  fall  on." 

This  was  said  at  a  happy  moment,  for,  tired  of  waiting, 
all  the  Indians  made  a  rapid  discharge  of  their  rifles, 
almost  simultaneously,  —  injuring  no  one,  though  several 
bullets  passed  through  the  loops.  Hist  had  heard  part  of 


250  THE  DEERSLAYER 

Hurry's  words,  but  most  of  what  he  said  was  lost  in  the 
sharp  reports  of  the  firearms.  She  undid  the  bar  of  the 
door  that  led  to  the  stern  of  the  scow,  but  did  not  dare  to 
expose  her  person.  All  this  time  the  head  of  the  ark  hung, 
but  by  a  gradually  decreasing  hold,  as  the  other  end  swung 
slowly  round,  nearer  and  nearer  to  the  platform.  Hurry, 
who  now  lay  with  his  face  towards  the  ark,  occasionally 
writhing  and  turning  over  like  one  in  pain,  evolutions  he 
had  performed  ever  since  he  was  secured,  watched  every 
change,  and  at  last  he  saw  that  the  whole  vessel  was  free, 
and  was  begining  to  grate  slowly  along  the  sides  of  the 
piles.  The  attempt  was  desperate,  but  it  seemed  the  only 
chance  for  escaping  torture  and  death,  and  it  suited  the 
reckless  daring  of  the  man's  character.  Waiting  to  the 
last  moment,  in  order  that  the  stern  of  the  scow  might 
fairly  rub  against  the  platform,  he  began  to  writhe  again  as 
if  in  intolerable  suffering,  execrating  all  Indians  in  general, 
and  the  Hurons  in  particular,  and  then  he  suddenly  and 
rapidly  rolled  over  and  over,  taking  the  direction  of  the 
stern  of  the  scow.  Unfortunately,  Hurry's  shoulders  required 
more  space  to  revolve  in  than  his  feet,  and  by  the  time  he 
reached  the  edge  of  the  platform,  his  direction  had  so  far 
changed  as  to  carry  him  clear  of  the  ark  altogether  ;  and  the 
rapidity  of  his  revolutions  and  the  emergency  admitting  of  no 
delay,  he  fell  into  the  water.  At  this  instant,  Chingachgook, 
by  an  understanding  with  his  betrothed,  drew  the  fire  of  the 
Hurons  again,  not  a  man  of  whom  saw  the  manner  in  which  one 
whom  they  knew  to  be  effectually  tethered  had  disappeared. 
The  moment  Hurry  was  in  motion,  Hist  foresaw  the 
consequences,  and  instantly  she  bethought  her  of  the  means 
of  saving  him.  She  opened  the  door  at  the  very  moment 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  251 

the  rifles  were  ringing  in  her  ears,  and  protected  by  the 
intervening  cabin,  she  stepped  into  the  stern  of  the  scow 
in  time  to  witness  the  fall  of  Hurry  into  the  lake.  Catch 
ing  up  a  coil  of  spare  rope,  she  threw  it  in  the  direction 
of  the  helpless  Hurry.  The  line  fell  on  the  head  and  body 
of  the  sinking  man,  and  he  not  only  succeeded  in  grasp 
ing  separate  parts  of  it  with  his  hands,  but  he  actually  got 
a  portion  of  it  between  his  teeth.  Hurry  was  an  expert 
swimmer,  —  and,  tethered  as  he  was,  he  resorted  to  the 
very  expedient  that  philosophy  and  reflection  would  have 
suggested.  He  had  fallen  on  his  back,  and  instead  of 
floundering  and  drowning  himself  by  desperate  efforts  to 
walk  on  the  water,  he  permitted  his  body  to  sink  as  low  as 
possible,  and  was  already  submerged,  with  the  exception 
of  his  face,  when  the  line  reached  him.  The  movement 
of  the  ark  soon  tightened  the  rope,  and  of  course  he  was 
dragged  gently  ahead,  holding  even  pace  with  the  scow. 
It  has  been  said  that  the  Hurons  did  not  observe  the 
sudden  disappearance  of  Hurry.  In  his  present  situation 
he  was  not  only  hid  from  view  by  the  platform,  but  as  the 
ark  drew  slowly  ahead,  impelled  by  a  sail  that  was  now 
filled,  he  received  the  same  friendly  service  from  the  piles. 
The  Hurons,  indeed,  were  too  intent  on  endeavoring  to 
slay  their  Delaware  foe  by  sending  a  bullet  through  some 
one  of  the  loops  or  crevices  of  the  cabin,  to  bethink  them 
of  one  whom  they  fancied  so  thoroughly  tied.  Chingach- 
gook  was  similarly  occupied,  and  remained  as  ignorant  as 
his  enemies  of  the  situation  of  Hurry.  As  the  ark  grated 
along  the  rifles  sent  their  little  clouds  of  smoke  from  one 
cover  to  the  other,  but  the  eyes  and  movements  of  the 
opposing  parties  were  too  quick  to  permit  any  injury  to  be 


252  THE  DEERSLAYER 

done.  At  length  one  side  had  the  mortification,  and  the 
other  the  pleasure,  of  seeing  the  scow  swing  clear  of  the 
piles  altogether,  when  it  immediately  moved  away,  with 
materially  accelerated  motion,  towards  the  north. 

Chingachgook  now  first  learned  the  critical  condition  of 
Hurry ;  and  Hist,  who  was  already  forward  for  that  pur 
pose,  immediately  began  to  pull  upon  the  line.  At  this 
moment  Hurry  was  towing  fifty  or  sixty  feet  astern,  with 
nothing  but  his  face  above  water.  As  he  was  dragged  out 
clear  of  the  castle  and  the  piles,  he  was  first  perceived  by 
the  Hurons,  who  raised  a  hideous  yell  and  commenced  a 
fire  on  what  may  very  well  be  termed  the  floating  mass. 
It  was  at  the  same  instant  that  Hist  began  to  pull  upon 
the  line  forward  —  a  circumstance  that  probably  saved 
Hurry's  life.  The  first  bullet  struck  the  water  directly  on 
the  spot  where  the  broad  chest  of  the  young  giant  was 
visible  through  the  water,  and  might  have  pierced  his 
heart  had  the  angle  at  which  it  was  fired  been  less  acute. 
Instead  of  penetrating  the  lake,  however,  it  glanced  from 
its  smooth  surface,  rose,  and  actually  buried  itself  in  the 
logs  of  the  cabin,  near  the  spot  at  which  Chingachgook 
had  shown  himself  the  minute  before,  while  clearing  the 
line  from  the  cleat.  A  second,  and  a  third,  and  a  fourth 
bullet  followed,  all  meeting  with  the  same  resistance  from 
the  surface  of  the  water  ;  though  Hurry  sensibly  felt  the 
violence  of  the  blows  they  struck  upon  the  lake  so  immedi 
ately  above,  and  sp  near  his  breast.  Discovering  their  mis 
take,  the  Hurons  now  changed  their  plan,  and  aimed  at 
the  uncovered  face  ;  but  by  this  time  Hist  was  pulling  on 
the  line,  the  target  advanced,  and  the  deadly  missiles  still 
fell  upon  the  water.  In  another  moment  the  body  was 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  253 

dragged  past  the  end  of  the  scow  and  became  concealed. 
As  for  the  Delaware  and  Hist,  they  worked  perfectly 
covered  by  the  catyn,  and  in  less  time  than  it  requires  to 
tell  it  they  had  hauled  the  huge  frame  of  Hurry  to  the 
place  they  occupied.  Chingachgook  stood  in  readiness 
with  his  keen  knife,  and  bending  over  the  side  of  the  scow 
he  soon  severed  the  bark  that  bound  the  limbs  of  the  bor 
derer.  To  raise  him  high  enough  to  reach  the  edge  of  the 
boat,  and  to  aid  him  in  entering,  were  less  easy  tasks,  as 
Hurry's  arms  were  still  nearly  useless  ;  but  both  were  done 
in  time,  when  the  liberated  man  staggered  forward,  and 
fell,  exhausted  and  helpless,  into  the  bottom  of  the  scow. 

The  moment  the  Hurons  lost  sight  of  the  body  of 
Hurry,  they  gave  a  common  yell  of  disappointment,  and 
three  of  the  most  active  of  their  number  ran  to  the  trap 
and  entered  the  canoe.  By  the  time  they  had  found  the 
paddles  and  embarked,  Hurry  was  in  the  scow,  and  the 
Delaware  had  his  rifles  again  in  readiness. 

When  the  three  Hurons  emerged  from  behind  the  pal 
isades,  and  found  themselves  on  the  open  lake,  and  under 
the  necessity  of  advancing  unprotected  on  the  ark,  if  they 
persevered  in  the  original  design,  their  ardor  sensibly 
cooled.  In  a  bark  canoe  they  were  totally  without  cover, 
and  Indian  discretion  was  entirely  opposed  to  such  a 
sacrifice  of  life  as  would  most  probably  follow  any  attempt 
to  assault  an  enemy  entrenched  as  effectually  as  the  Dela 
ware.  Instead  of  following  the  ark,  therefore,  they  seemed 
suddenly  to  decide  to  give  chase  to  the  girls,  whose  canoe 
was  about  a  quarter  of  a  mile  distant  from  the  ark,  as  Ju 
dith  in  her  uncertainty  of  what  was  happening  had  deemed 
it  wiser  not  to  venture  too  near. 


254  THE  DEERSLAYER 

At  the  moment  when  the  Hurons  so  suddenly  changed 
their  mode  of  attack,  their  canoe  was  not  in  the  best 
possible  racing  trim.  There  were  but  two  paddles,  and  the 
third  man  was  so  much  extra  and  useless  cargo.  Then  the 
difference  in  weight  between  the  sisters  and  the  other  two 
men,  more  especially  in  vessels  so  extremely  light,  almost 
neutralized  any  difference  that  might  proceed  from  the 
greater  strength  of  the  Hurons,  and  rendered  the  trial  of 
speed  far  from  being  as  unequal  as  it  might  seem,  especially 
as  the  girls,  from  long  habit,  used  the  paddles  with  great  dex 
terity.  When  Judith  saw  that  they  were  being  followed,  she 
excited  Hetty  to  aid  her  with  her  utmost  skill  and  strength. 

"  Why  should  we  run,  Judith  ?  "  asked  the  simple- 
minded  girl ;  "  the  Hurons  have  never  harmed  me,  nor 
do  I  think  they  ever  will." 

"That  may  be  true  as  to  you,  Hetty,  but  it  will  prove 
very  different  with  me.  Kneel  down  and  say  your  prayer, 
and  then  rise  and  do  your  utmost  to  help  escape.  Think 
of  me,  dear  girl,  too,  as  you  pray." 

Judith  gave  these  directions  from  a  mixed  feeling ; 
first,  because  she  knew  that  her  sister  ever  sought  the 
support  of  her  Great  Ally,  in  trouble  ;  and  next,  because 
a  sensation  of  feebleness  and  dependence  suddenly  came 
over  her  own  proud  spirit,  in  that  moment  of  apparent 
desertion  and  trial.  The  prayer  was  quickly  said,  how 
ever,  and  the  canoe  was  soon  in  rapid  motion.  Still, 
neither  party  resorted  to  their  greatest  exertions  from  the 
outset,  —  both  knowing  that  the  chase  was  likely  to  be 
arduous  and  long,  for  a  few  minutes  had  sufficed  to  show 
the  Hurons  that  the  girls  were  expert,  and  that  it  would 
require  all  their  skill  and  energies  to  overtake  them. 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  255 

Judith  had  inclined  towards  the  eastern  shore  at  the 
commencement  of  the  chase,  with  a  vague  determination 
of  landing  and  flying  to  the  woods,  as  a  last  resort ;  but 
as  she  approached  the  land,  the  certainty  that  scouts  must 
be  watching  her  movements  made  her  reluctance  to  adopt 
such  an  expedient  unconquerable.  Then  she  was  still 
fresh,  and  had  sanguine  hopes  of  being  able  to  tire  out  her 
pursuers.  With  such  feelings,  she  gave  a  sweep  with  her 
paddle,  and  sheered  off  from  the  fringe  of  dark  hemlocks, 
beneath  the  shades  of  which  she  was  so  near  entering,  and 
held  her  way  again  more  towards  the  centre  of  the  lake. 
This  seemed  the  instant  favorable  for  the  Hurons  to  make 
their  push,  as  it  gave  them  the  entire  breadth  of  the  sheet 
to  do  it  in.  The  canoes  now  flew ;  Judith  making  up  for 
what  she  wanted  in  strength,  by  her  great  dexterity  and 
self-command.  For  half  a  mile  the  Indians  gained  no  ma 
terial  advantage,  but  the  continuance  of  so  great  exertions 
for  so  many  minutes  sensibly  affected  all  concerned.  Here 
the  Indians  resorted  to  an  expedient  that  enabled  them  to 
give  one  of  their  party  time  to  breathe,  by  shifting  their 
paddles  from  hand  to  hand,  —  and  this,  too,  without  sen 
sibly  relaxing  their  efforts.  Judith  occasionally  looked  be 
hind  her,  and  she  saw  this  expedient  practiced.  It  caused 
her  immediately  to  distrust  the  result,  since  her  powers  of 
endurance  were  not  likely  to  hold  out  against  those  of  men 
who  had  the  means  of  relieving  each  other ;  still  she  per 
severed,  allowing  no  very  visible  consequences  immediately 
to  follow  the  change. 

As  yet  the  Indians  had  not  been  able  to  get  nearer  to 
the  girls  than  two  hundred  yards.  But  before  she  had 
gained  the  centre  of  the  lake,  Judith  perceived  that  the 


256  THE  DEERSLAYER 

Hurons  were  drawing  sensibly  nearer  and  nearer.  She 
was  not  a  girl  to  despair ;  but  there  was  an  instant  when 
she  thought  of  yielding,  with  the  wish  of  being  carried  to 
the  camp  where  she  knew  the  Deerslayer  to  be  a  captive  ; 
but  the  thought  of  the  means  she  intended  to  employ 
to  procure  his  release  stimulated  her  to  renewed  ex 
ertions.  The  outburst  of  speed  to  which  she  was  thus 
freshly  impelled  was  so  great  that  the  Hurons  began  to  be 
convinced  all  their  powers  must  be  exerted,  or  they  would 
suffer  the  disgrace  of  being  baffled  by  women.  Making  a 
furious  effort,  under  the  mortification  of  such  a  conviction, 
one  of  the  stronger  of  their  party  broke  his  paddle,  at  the 
very  moment  when  he  had  taken  it  from  the  hand  of  a 
comrade,  to  relieve  him.  This  at  once  decided  the  matter  ; 
a  canoe  containing  three  men,  and  having  but  one  paddle, 
being  utterly  unable  to  overtake  fugitives  like  the  daughters 
of  Thomas  Hutter. 

"There,  Judith  !  "  exclaimed  Hetty,  who  saw  the  acci 
dent,  "  I  hope,  now,  you  will  own  that  praying  is  useful ! 
The  Hurons  have  broke  a  paddle,  and  they  never  can 
overtake  us." 

"  I  never  denied  it,  poor  Hetty ;  and  sometimes  wish, 
in  bitterness  of  spirit,  that  I  had  prayed  more  myself,  and 
thought  less  of  my  beauty.  As  you  say,  we  are  now  safe, 
and  need  only  go  a  little  south  and  take  breath." 

This  was  done  ;  the  enemy  giving  up  the  pursuit  the 
instant  the  accident  occurred.  Instead  of  following  Ju 
dith's  canoe,  which  was  now  lightly  skimming  over  the 
water  towards  the  south,  the  Hurons  turned  their  bows 
towards  the  shore,  where  they  soon  arrived  and  landed. 
The  ark  was  now  quite  a  mile  to  the  northward,  and 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  257 

Judith,  uncertain  whether  it  was  manned  by  friends  or 
foes,  decided  to  proceed  to  the  castle. 

Notwithstanding  the  seeming  desertion  of  the  castle, 
Judith  approached  it  with  extreme  caution.  When  within 
a  hundred  yards  of  the  building,  the  girls  began  to  encircle 
it,  in  order  to  make  sure  that  it  was  empty.  No  canoe  was 
nigh,  and  this  emboldened  them  to  draw  nearer  and  nearer, 
until  they  had  gone  round  the  piles  and  reached  the  plat 
form. 

"  Do  you  go  into  the  house,  Hetty,"  said  Judith,  "  and 
see  that  the  savages  are  gone.  They  will  not  harm  you  ; 
and  if  any  of  them  are  still  here,  you  can  give  me  the 
alarm.  I  do  not  think  they  will  fire  on  a  poor  defenseless 
girl,  and  I  at  least  may  escape,  until  I  shall  be  ready  to  go 
among  them  of  my  own  accord." 

Hetty  did  as  desired,  Judith  retiring  a  few  yards  from 
the  platform  the  instant  her  sister  landed,  in  readiness  for 
flight.  But  the  last  was  unnecessary,  not  a  minute  elapsing 
before  Hetty  returned  to  communicate  that  all  was  safe. 

"  I  've  been  in  all  the  rooms,  Judith,"  said  the  latter, 
earnestly,  "and  they  are  empty,  except  father's  ;  he  is  in 
his  own  chamber,  sleeping,  though  not  as  quietly  as  we 
could  wish." 

"  Has  anything  happened  to  father  ?  "  demanded  Judith, 
as  her  foot  touched  the  platform,  speaking  quick,  for  her 
nerves  were  in  a  state  to  be  easily  alarmed. 

Hetty  seemed  concerned,  and  she  looked  furtively  about 
her,  as  if  unwilling  any  one  but  a  child  should  hear  what 
she  had  to  communicate,  and  even  that  she  should  learn 
it  abruptly. 

"You  know  how  it  is  with  father,  sometimes,  Judith," 


258  THE  DEERSLAYER 

she  said.  "  When  overtaken  with  liquor  he  does  n't  always 
know  what  he  says  or  does  ;  and  he  seems  to  be  overtaken 
with  liquor,  now." 

"  That  is  strange  !  Would  the  savages  have  drunk  with 
him,  and  then  leave  him  behind  ?  But 't  is  a  grievous  sight 
to  witness,  Hetty,  and  we  will  not  go  near  him  till  he  wakes." 

A  groan  from  the  inner  room,  however,  changed  this 
resolution,  and  the  girls  ventured  near.  H  utter  was  seated, 
reclining  in  a  corner  of  a  narrow  room,  with  his  shoulders 
supported  by  the  angle,  and  his  head  fallen  heavily  on  his 
chest.  Judith  moved  forward  with  a  sudden  impulse,  and 
removed  a  canvas  cap  that  was  forced  so  low  on  his  head 
as  to  conceal  his  face,  and,  indeed,  all  but  his  shoulders. 
The  instant  this  obstacle  was  taken  away,  the  quivering 
and  raw  flesh,  the  bared  veins  and  muscles,  and  all  the 
other  disgusting  signs  of  mortality,  as  they  are  revealed 
by  tearing  away  the  skin,  showed  he  had  been  scalped, 
though  still  living. 

CHAPTER  VIII 

The  reader  must  imagine  the  horror  that  daughters 
would  experience  at  unexpectedly  beholding  the  shocking 
spectacle  that  was  placed  before  the  eyes  of  Judith  and 
Hetty.  We  shall  pass  over  the  first  emotions,  the  first  acts 
of  filial  piety,  and  proceed  with  the  narrative,  by  imagining 
rather  than  relating  most  of  the  revolting  features  of  the 
scene.  The  mutilated  and  ragged  head  was  bound  up,  the 
unseemly  blood  was  wiped  from  the  face  of  the  sufferer, 
the  other  appliances  required  by  appearances  and  care 
were  resorted  to,  and  there  was  time  to  consider  the 
horrible  situation. 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  259 

There  are  moments  of  vivid  consciousness,  when  the 
stern  justice  of  God  stands  forth  in  colors  so  prominent 
as  to  defy  any  attempts  to  veil  them  from  the  sight,  how 
ever  unpleasant  they  may  appear,  or  however  anxious  we 
may  be  to  avoid  recognizing  it.  Such  was  now  the  fact 
with  Judith  and  Hetty,  who  both  perceived  the  decrees  of 
a  retributive  Providence,  in  the  manner  of  their  father's 
suffering,  as  a  punishment  for  his  own  recent  attempts  on 
the  Iroquois.  This  was  seen  and  felt  by  Judith,  with  the 
keenness  of  perception  and  sensibility  that  were  suited  to 
her  character ;  while  the  impression  made  on  the  simpler 
mind  of  her  sister  was  perhaps  less  lively,  though  it  might 
well  have  proved  more  lasting. 

"  Oh,  Judith,"  exclaimed  the  weak-minded  girl,  as  soon 
as  their  first  care  had  been  bestowed  on  the  sufferer. 
"  Father  went  for  scalps,  himself,  and  now  where  is  his 
own  ?  The  Bible  might  have  foretold  this  dreadful 
punishment!  " 

11  Hush  !  Hetty  —  hush  !  poor  sister  ;  he  opens  his  eyes  ; 
he  may  hear  and  understand  you.  'T  is  as  you  say  and 
think  ;  but  't  is  too  dreadful  to  speak  of  !  " 

"  Water !  "  ejaculated  Hutter,  as  it  might  be  by  a  des 
perate  effort,  that  rendered  his  voice  frightfully  deep  and 
strong,  for  one  as  near  death  as  he  evidently  was  ;  "  water  ! 
foolish  girls  —  will  you  let  me  die  of  thirst  ?  " 

Water  was  brought  and  administered  to  the  sufferer  ;  the 
first  he  had  tasted  in  hours  of  physical  anguish.  It  had  the 
double  effect  of  clearing  his  throat,  and  of  momentarily  reviv 
ing  his  sinking  system.  His  eyes  opened  with  that  anxious, 
distended  gaze  which  is  apt  to  accompany  the  passage  of  a 
soul  surprised  by  death,  and  he  seemed  disposed  to  speak. 


260  THE  DEERSLAYER 

11  Father,"  said  Judith,  inexpressibly  pained  by  his  de 
plorable  situation,  and  this  so  much  the  more  from  her 
ignorance  of  what  remedies  ought  to  be  applied,  "  Father, 
can  we  do  anything  for  you  ?  Can  Hetty  and  I  relieve 
your  pain  ?  " 

11  Father  !  "  slowly  repeated  the  old  man.  "  No,  Judith 
—  no,  Hetty  —  I  'm  no  father.  She  was  your  mother,  but 
I  'm  no  father.  Look  in  the  chest —  't  is  all  there  —  give 
me  more  water." 

The  girls  complied ;  and  Judith,  whose  early  recollec 
tions  extended  further  back  than  her  sister's,  and  who, 
on  every  account,  had  more  distinct  impressions  of  the 
past,  felt  an  uncontrollable  impulse  of  joy  as  she  heard 
these  words.  There  had  never  been  much  sympathy 
between  her  reputed  father  and  herself,  and  suspicions 
of  this  very  truth  had  often  glanced  across  her  mind, 
in  consequence  of  dialogues  she  had  overheard  between 
Hutter  and  her  mother.  It  might  be  going  too  far  to  say 
she  had  never  loved  him  ;  but  it  is  not  so  to  add,  that 
she  rejoiced  it  was  no  longer  a  duty.  With  Hetty  the 
feeling  was  different.  Incapable  of  making  all  the  distinc 
tions  of  her  sister,  her  very  nature  was  full  of  affection, 
and  she  had  loved  her  reputed  parent,  though  far  less 
tenderly  than  the  real  parent ;  and  it  grieved  her,  now, 
to  hear  him  declare  he  was  not  naturally  entitled  to  that 
love.  She  felt  a  double  grief,  as  if  his  death  and  his  words 
together  were  twice  depriving  her  of  parents.  Yielding  to 
her  feelings,  the  poor  girl  went  aside  and  wept. 

The  very  opposite  emotions  of  the  two  girls  kept  both 
silent  for  a  long  time.  Judith  gave  water  to  the  sufferer 
frequently,  and  she  forebore  to  urge  him  with  questions. 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  261 

At  length  Hetty  dried  her  tears,  and  came  and  seated 
herself  on  a  stool  by  the  side  of  the  dying  man,  who  had 
been  placed  at  his  length  on  the  floor,  with  his  head  sup 
ported  by  some  worn  vestments  that  had  been  left  in  the 
house. 

"Father,"  she  said,  "you  will  let  me  call  you  father, 
though  you  say  you  are  not  one,  —  father,  shall  I  read  the 
Bible  to  you  ?  —  mother  always  said  the  Bible  was  good 
for  people  in  trouble.  She  was  often  in  trouble  herself, 
and  then  she  made  me  read  the  Bible  to  her  —  for  Judith 
was  n't  as  fond  of  the  Bible  as  I  am  —  and  it  always  did 
her  good.  Many  is  the  time  I  've  known  mother  begin  to 
listen  with  the  tears  streaming  from  her  eyes,  and  end  with 
smiles  and  gladness.  Oh,  father,  you  don't  know  how 
much  good  the  Bible  can  do,  for  you  've  never  tried  it,  — 
now  I  '11  read  a  chapter,  and  it  will  soften  your  heart,  as 
it  softened  the  hearts  of  the  Hurons." 

While  poor  Hetty  had  so  much  reverence  for,  and  faith 
in,  the  virtue  of  the  Bible,  her  intellect  was  too  shallow  to 
enable  her  fully  to  appreciate  its  beauties,  or  to  fathom  its 
profound  and  sometimes  mysterious  wisdom.  Her  selec 
tions  from  the  Bible,  therefore,  were  commonly  distin 
guished  by  the  simplicity  of  her  own  mind,  and  were 
oftener  marked  for  containing  images  of  known  and  pal 
pable  things,  than  for  any  of  the  higher  cast  of  moral 
truths  with  which  the  pages  of  that  wonderful  book  abound. 
Her  mother  had  been  fond  of  the  book  of  Job,  and  Hetty 
had,  in  a  great  measure,  learned  to  read  by  the  frequent 
lessons  she  had  received  from  the  different  chapters  of 
this  venerable  and  sublime  poem,  now  believed  to  be  the 
oldest  book  in  the  world.  On  this  occasion,  the  poor  girl 


262  THE  DEERSLAYER 

was  submissive  to  her  training,  and  she  turned  to  that 
well-known  part  of  the  sacred  volume.  In  selecting  the 
particular  chapter,  she  was  influenced  by  the  heading,  and 
she  chose  that  which  stands  in  our  English  version  as 
"Job  excuseth  his  desire  of  death."  This  she  read  steadily, 
from  beginning  to  end,  in  a  sweet,  low,  and  plaintive  voice. 

The  very  opening  sentence  —  Is  there  not  an  appointed 
time  to  man  on  earth  ?  —  was  startling.  The  solemn  words, 
/  have  sinned ;  what  shall  I  do  unto  thee,  O  thou  pre 
server  of  men  ?  Why  hast  thou  set  me  as  a  mark  against 
thee,  so  that  I  am  a  burden  to  myself?  struck  H utter 
more  perceptibly  than  the  others  ;  and,  though  too  obscure 
for  one  of  his  blunted  feelings  and  obtuse  mind  either  to 
feel  or  to  comprehend  in  their  fullest  extent,  they  had  a 
directness  of  application  to  his  own  state  that  caused  him 
to  wince  under  them. 

"Don't  you  feel  better  now,  father?"  asked  Hetty, 
closing  the  volume.  "  Mother  was  always  better  when  she 
had  read  the  Bible." 

"Water,"  returned  H  utter ;  "give  me  water,  Judith. 
I  wonder  if  my  tongue  will  always  be  so  hot !  Hetty,  is  n't 
there  something  in  the  Bible  about  cooling  the  tongue  of 
a  man  who  was  burning  in  hell-fire  ?  " 

Judith  turned  away,  shocked  ;  but  Hetty  eagerly  sought 
the  passage,  which  she  read  aloud  to  the  conscience-stricken 
victim  of  his  own  avaricious  longings. 

"  That 's  it,  poor  Hetty  ;  yes,  that 's  it.  My  tongue 
wants  cooling,  now;  what  will  it  be  hereafter?" 

This  appeal  silenced  even  the  confiding  Hetty,  for  she 
had  no  answer  ready  for  a  confession  so  fraught  with 
despair.  Water,  so  long  as  it  could  relieve  the  sufferer,  it 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  263 

was  in  the  power  of  the  sisters  to  give  ;  and,  from  time 
to  time,  it  was  offered  to  the  lips  of  the  sufferer  as  he  asked 
for  it.  Even  Judith  prayed.  As  for  Hetty,  as  soon  as  she 
found  that  her  efforts  to  make  her  father  listen  to  her  texts 
were  no  longer  rewarded  with  success,  she  knelt  at  his  side, 
and  devoutly  repeated  the  words  which  the  Saviour  has  left 
behind  Him  as  a  model  for  human  petitions.  This  she 
continued  to  do,  at  intervals,  as  long  as  it  seemed  to  her 
that  the  act  could  benefit  the  dying  man.  H utter,  however, 
lingered  longer  than  the  girls  had  believed  possible,  when 
they  first  found  him.  At  times  he  spoke  intelligibly,  though 
his  lips  oftener  moved  in  utterance  of  sounds  that  carried 
no  distinct  impressions  to  the  mind.  Judith  listened 
intently,  and  she  heard  the  words  "  husband,"  "  death," 
"  pirate,"  "  law,"  "  scalps,"  and  several  others  of  a  similar 
import,  though  there  was  no  sentence  to  tell  the  precise 
connection  in  which  they  were  used.  Still,  they  were  suffi 
ciently  expressive  to  be  understood  by  one  whose  ears  had 
not  escaped  all  the  rumors  that  had  been  circulated  to  her 
reputed  father's  discredit,  and  whose  comprehension  was 
as  quick  as  her  faculties  were  attentive. 

During  the  whole  of  the  painful  hour  that  succeeded, 
neither  of  the  sisters  bethought  her  sufficiently  of  the 
Hurons  to  dread  their  return.  It  seemed  as  if  their  deso 
lation  and  grief  placed  them  above  the  danger  of  such  an 
interruption  ;  and  when  the  sound  of  oars  was  at  length 
heard,  even  Judith,  who  alone  had  any  reason  to  appre 
hend  the  enemy,  did  not  start,  but  at  once  understood  that 
the  ark  was  near.  She  went  upon  the  platform  fearlessly  ; 
for,  should  it  turn  out  that  Hurry  was  not  there,  and  that 
the  Hurons  were  masters  of  the  scow  also,  escape  was 


264  THE  DEERSLAYER 

impossible.  Then  she  had  the  sort  of  confidence  that  is 
inspired  by  extreme  misery.  But  there  was  no  cause  for  any 
new  alarm,  —  Chingachgook,  Hist,  and  Hurry  all  standing 
in  the  open  part  of  the  scow,  cautiously  examining  the 
building,  to  make  certain  of  the  absence  of  the  enemy. 
They,  too,  had  seen  the  departure  of  the  Hurons,  as  well 
as  the  approach  of  the  canoe  of  the  girls.  A  word  sufficed 
to  explain  that  there  was  nothing  to  be  apprehended,  and 
the  ark  was  soon  moored  in  her  old  berth. 

Judith  said  not  a  word  concerning  the  condition  of  her 
father,  but  Hurry  knew  her  too  well  not  to  understand  that 
something  was  more  than  usually  wrong.  He  led  the  way, 
though  with  less  of  his  confident  bold  manner  than  usual, 
into  the  house,  and  penetrating  to  the  inner  room  found 
H utter  lying  on  his  back,  with  Hetty  sitting  at  his  side  fan 
ning  him  with  pious  care.  The  events  of  the  morning  had 
sensibly  changed  the  manner  of  Hurry.  Notwithstanding 
his  skill  as  a  swimmer,  and  the  readiness  with  which  he 
had  adopted  the  only  expedient  that  could  possibly  save 
him,  the  helplessness  of  being  in  the  water,  bound  hand 
and  foot,  had  produced  some  such  an  effect  on  him  as  the 
near  approach  of  punishment  is  known  to  produce  on  most 
criminals,  leaving  a  vivid  impression  of  the  horrors  of  death 
upon  his  mind,  and  this,  too,  in  connection  with  a  picture 
of  bodily  helplessness  ;  the  daring  of  this  man  being  far 
more  the  offspring  of  past  physical  powers  than  of  the  energy 
of  the  will,  or  even  of  natural  spirit.  Such  heroes  invariably 
lose  a  large  portion  of  their  courage  with  the  failure  of  their 
strength ;  and,  though  Hurry  was  now  unfettered,  and  as  vig 
orous  as  ever,  events  were  too  recent  to  permit  the  recollec 
tion  of  his  late  deplorable  condition  to  be  at  all  weakened. 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  265 

Hurry  was  not  only  shocked  when  he  found  his  late  as 
sociate  in  this  desperate  situation,  but  he  was  greatly  sur 
prised.  During  the  struggle  in  the  building  he  had  been 
far  too  much  occupied  himself  to  learn  what  had  befallen 
his  comrade,  and,  as  no  deadly  weapon  had  been  used  in 
his  particular  case,  but  every  effort  had  been  made  to  cap 
ture  him  without  injury,  he  naturally  believed  that  Hutter 
had  been  overcome  and  taken  prisoner.  As  a  matter  of 
fact,  Hutter  had  made  so  violent  a  stand  that  the  Indian 
chief  who  was  struggling  with  him  had  been  obliged  to 
use  a  knife  to  stab  him,  since  he  could  not  overcome 
him  otherwise.  Having  wounded  him  severely,  he  scalped 
him  to  secure  the  usual  trophy,  and  left  him  to  die. 

Death,  in  the  silence  and  solemnity  of  a  chamber,  was 
a  novelty  to  Hurry.  Notwithstanding  the  change  in  his 
feelings,  the  manners  of  a  life  could  not  be  altogether  cast 
aside  in  a  moment,  and  the  unexpected  scene  extorted  a 
characteristic  speech  from  the  borderer. 

"  How  now !  old  Tom,"  he  said,  "  have  the  vagabonds 
got  you  at  an  advantage,  where  you  're  not  only  down,  but 
are  likely  to  be  kept  down  !  I  thought  you  a  captyve,  it 's 
true,  but  never  supposed  you  so  hard  run  as  this !  " 

Hutter  opened  his  glassy  eyes,  and  stared  wildly  at  the 
speaker.  A  flood  of  confused  recollections  rushed  on  his 
wavering  mind  at  the  sight  of  his  late  comrade.  It  was 
evident  that  he  struggled  with  his  own  images,  and  knew 
not  the  real  from  the  unreal. 

"  Who  are  you  ?  "  he  asked  in  a  husky  whisper,  his  fail 
ing  strength  refusing  to  aid  him  in  a  louder  effort  of  his 
voice.  "  Who  are  you  ?  You  look  like  the  mate  of  the 
Snow  —  he  was  a  giant,  too,  and  near  overcoming  us." 


266  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  I  'm  your  mate,  Floating  Tom,  and  your  comrade,  but 
have  nothing  to  do  with  any  snow.  It 's  summer  now,  and 
Harry  March  always  quits  the  hills  as  soon  after  the  frosts 
set  in  as  is  convenient." 

"  I  know  you  —  Hurry  Skurry  ;  I  '11  sell  you  a  scalp  !  a 
sound  one,  and  of  a  full  grown  man  ;  what  '11  you  give  ?  " 

"  Poor  Tom  !  That  scalp  business  has  n't  turned  out  at 
all  profitable,  and  I  've  pretty  much  concluded  to  give  it  up, 
and  to  follow  a  less  bloody  calling." 

"  Have  you  got  any  scalp  ?    Mine  's  gone  ;  how  does  it 
feel  to  have  a  scalp  ?    I  know  how  it  feels  to  lose  one  — 
fire  and  flames  about  the  brain  —  and  a  wrenching  at  the 
heart;  no,  no  —  kill/m-/,  Hurry,  and  scalp  afterwards" 

Once  more  Hutter  opened  his  eyes  and  even  tried  to 
feel  about  him  with  his  hands,  a  sign  that  sight  was  failing. 
A  minute  later  his  breathing  grew  ghastly  ;  a  pause  totally 
without  respiration  followed ;  and  then  succeeded  the  last 
long-drawn  sigh.  The  spirit  of  Thomas  Hutter  had  passed 
from  the  body. 

CHAPTER   IX 

The  day  passed  by  without  futher  interruption  —  the 
Hurons,  though  possessed  of  a  canoe,  appearing  so  far  sat 
isfied  with  their  success  as  to  have  relinquished  all  immedi 
ate  designs  on  the  castle.  It  would  not  have  been  a  safe 
undertaking,  indeed,  to  approach  it  under  the  rifles  of 
those  it  was  now  known  to  contain,  and  it  is  probable  that 
the  truce  was  more  owing  to  this  circumstance  than  to  any 
other.  In  the  meanwhile,  the  preparations  were  made  for 
the  interment  of  Hutter.  To  bury  him  on  the  land  was 
impracticable,  and  it  was  Hetty's  wish  that  his  body  should 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  267 

lie  by  the  side  of  that  of  her  mother  in  the  lake.  Judith  had 
not  meddled  with  the  arrangement,  but  had  left  every 
necessary  disposition  to  the  others.  The  hour  chosen  for 
the  rude  ceremony  was  just  as  the  sun  was  setting.  When 
Judith  was  told  that  all  was  ready,  she  went  upon  the 
platform,  passive  to  the  request  of  her  sister,  and  then 
she  first  took  heed  of  the  arrangement.  The  body  was  in 
the  scow,  enveloped  in  a  sheet,  and  quite  a  hundred-weight 
of  stones,  that  had  been  taken  from  the  fireplace,  were  in 
closed  with  it  in  order  that  it  might  sink.  No  other  prep 
aration  seemed  to  be  thought  necessary,  though  Hetty 
carried  her  Bible  beneath  her  arm. 

The  progress  of  the  ark  had  something  of  the  stately 
solemnity  of  a  funeral  procession,  the  dip  of  the  oars  being 
measured,  and  the  movement  slow  and  steady.  The  wash 
of  the  water,  as  the  blades  rose  and  fell,  kept  time  with 
the  efforts  of  Hurry,  and  might  have  been  likened  to  the 
measured  tread  of  mourners.  Then  the  tranquil  scene  was 
in  beautiful  accordance  with  a  rite  that  ever  associates  with 
itself  the  idea  of  God.  At  that  instant,  the  lake  had  not 
even  a  single  ripple  on  its  glassy  surface,  and  the  broad 
panorama  of  woods  seemed  to  look  down  on  the  holy  tran 
quillity  of  the  hour  and  ceremony  in  melancholy  stillness. 
Judith  was  affected  to  tears,  and  even  Hurry,  though  he 
hardly  knew  why,  was  troubled.  Hetty  preserved  the  out 
ward  signs  of  tranquillity,  but  her  inward  grief  greatly  sur 
passed  that  of  her  sister,  since  her  affectionate  heart  loved 
more  from  habit  and  long  association  than  from  the  usual 
connections  of  sentiment  and  taste.  Hist  was  serious,  atten 
tive,  and  interested,  for  she  had  often  seen  the  interments 
of  the  palefaces,  though  never  one  that  promised  to  be  as 


268  THE  DEERSLAYER 

peculiar  as  this  ;  while  the  Delaware,  though  grave,  and 
also  observant  in  his  demeanor,  was  stoical  and  calm. 

Hetty  acted  as  pilot,  directing  Hurry  how  to  proceed  to 
find  that  spot  in  the  lake  which  she  was  in  the  habit  of 
terming  "mother's  grave,"  for  it  had  been  her  custom  to 
repair  to  the  place  frequently  after  nightfall,  and,  anchor 
ing  her  canoe,  to  sit  and  hold  fancied  conversations  with 
the  deceased,  sing  sweet  hymns  to  the  evening  air,  and 
repeat  the  prayers  that  the  being  who  now  slumbered  be 
low  had  taught  her  in  infancy.  At  the  proper  time  she 
approached  March,  whispering  :  — 

"  Now,  Hurry,  you  can  stop  rowing.  We  have  passed 
the  stone  on  the  bottom,  and  mother's  grave  is  near." 

The  ark  turned  slowly  round  under  Hurry's  guidance, 
and  was  brought  to  a  full  stop. 

There  was  no  other  priest  than  nature  at  that  wild  and 
singular  funeral  rite.  March  cast  his  eyes  below,  and 
through  the  transparent  medium  of  the  clear  water,  which 
was  almost  as  pure  as  air,  he  saw  what  Hetty  was  accus 
tomed  to  call  "mother's  grave."  It  was  a  low,  straggling 
mound  of  earth,  fashioned  by  no  spade,  out  of  a  corner  of 
which  gleamed  a  bit  of  the  white  cloth  that  formed  the 
shroud  of  the  dead.  The  body  had  been  lowered  to  the 
bottom,  and  H utter  brought  earth  from  the  shore  and  let 
it  fall  upon  it,  until  all  was  concealed.  In  this  state  the 
place  had  remained  until  the  movement  of  the  waters 
revealed  the  solitary  sign  of  the  uses  of  the  spot  that  has 
just  been  mentioned.  March  signified  to  Judith  that  all  was 
ready,  received  her  directions  to  proceed,  and,  with  no  other 
assistant  than  his  own  vast  strength,  raised  the  body  and  bore 
it  to  the  end  of  the  scow.  Two  parts  of  a  rope  were  passed 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  269 

beneath  the  legs  and  shoulders,  as  they  are  placed  beneath 
coffins,  and  then  the  corpse  was  slowly  lowered  beneath  the 
surface  of  the  lake. 

"Not  there — Harry  March  —  no,  not  there"  said  Ju 
dith,  shuddering  involuntarily;  "do  not  lower  it  quite  so 
near  the  spot  where  mother  lies  !  " 

"  Why  not,  Judith  ?  "  asked  Hetty,  earnestly.  "  They 
lived  together  in  life,  and  should  lie  together  in  death." 

"No  —  no  —  Harry  March,  further  off  —  further  off. 
Poor  Hetty,  you  know  not  what  you  say.  Leave  me  to 
order  this." 

"  I  know  I  am  weak-minded,  Judith,  and  that  you  are 
clever  —  but,  surely  a  husband  should  be  placed  near  a 
wife.  Mother  always  said  that  this  was  the  way  they  bury 
in  Christian  churchyards." 

This  little  controversy  was  conducted  earnestly,  but  in 
smothered  voices,  as  if  the  speakers  feared  that  the  dead 
might  overhear  them.  Judith  could  not  contend  with  her 
sister  at  such  a  moment,  but  a  significant  gesture  from  her 
induced  March  to  lower  the  body  at  a  little  distance  from 
that  of  his  wife  ;  when  he  withdrew  the  cords,  and  the  act 
was  performed. 

"  There  's  an  end  of  Floating  Tom  !  "  exclaimed  Hurry, 
bending  over  the  scow,  and  gazing  through  the  water  at 
the  body.  "  He  was  a  brave  companion  on  a  scout,  and  a 
notable  hand  with  traps.  Don't  weep,  Judith  —  don't  be 
overcome,  Hetty,  for  the  righteousest  of  us  all  must  die  ;  and 
when  the  time  comes,  lamentations  and  tears  can't  bring 
the  dead  to  life.  Your  father  will  be  a  loss  to  you,  no 
doubt ;  most  fathers  are  a  loss,  especially  to  onmarried 
darters  ;  but  there  's  a  way  to  cure  that  evil,  and  you  're 


270  THE  DEERSLAYER 

both  too  young  and  handsome  to  live  long  without  finding 
it  out.  When  it 's  agreeable  to  hear  what  an  honest  and 
onpretending  man  has  to  say,  Judith,  I  should  like  to  talk 
a  little  with  you  apart." 

Judith  had  scarce  attended  to  this  rude  attempt  of  Hur 
ry's  at  consolation.  She  was  weeping  at  the  recollection 
of  her  mother's  early  tenderness,  and  painful  images  of 
long-forgotten  lessons  and  neglected  precepts  were  crowd 
ing  her  mind.  The  words  of  Hurry,  however,  recalled  her 
to  the  present  time.  Earlier  in  the  day  she  had  communi 
cated  to  him  with  all  possible  brevity  the  fact  that  she  was 
not  Thomas  Hutter's  daughter.  Now  she  gazed  intently 
for  a  moment  at  the  young  man,  dried  her  eyes,  and  led 
the  way  to  the  other  end  of  the  scow,  signifying  her  wish 
for  him  to  follow.  Here  she  took  a  seat,  and  motioned 
for  March  to  place  himself  at  her  side.  The  decision  and 
earnestness  with  which  all  this  was  done  a  little  intimidated 
her  companion,  and  Judith  found  it  necessary  to  open  the 
subject  herself. 

"  You  wish  to  speak  to  me  of  marriage,  Harry  March," 
she  said,  ' '  and  I  have  come  here,  over  the  grave  of  my 
parents,  as  it  might  be  —  no,  no  —  over  the  grave  of  my 
poor,  dear,  dear  mother,  to  hear  what  you  have  to  say." 

"  This  is  oncommon,  and  you  have  a  skearful  way  with 
you,  this  evening,  Judith,"  answered  Hurry,  more  disturbed 
than  he  would  have  cared  to  own  ;  "  but  truth  is  truth, 
and  it  shall  come  out,  let  what  will  follow.  You  well  know, 
gal,  that  I  've  long  thought  you  the  comeliest  young  woman 
my  eyes  ever  beheld,  and  that  I  've  made  no  secret  of 
that  fact,  either  here  on  the  lake,  out  among  the  hunters 
and  trappers,  or  in  the  settlements." 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  271 

"  Yes,  yes,  I  've  heard  this  before,  and  I  suppose  it  to 
be  true,"  answered  Judith,  with  a  sort  of  feverish  impa 
tience. 

"  When  a  young  man  holds  such  language  of  any  par 
ticular  young  woman,  it 's  reasonable  to  calculate  he  sets 
store  by  her." 

"True  —  true,  Hurry;  all  this  you've  told  me,  again 
and  again." 

"  Well,  if  it 's  agreeable,  I  should  think  a  woman 
could  n't  hear  it  too  often.  They  all  tell  me  this  is  the 
way  with  your  sex  ;  that  nothing  pleases  them  more  than 
to  repeat,  over  and  over,  for  the  hundredth  time,  how 
much  you  like  'em,  unless  it  be  to  talk  to  'em  of  their 
good  looks !  " 

"  No  doubt  —  we  like  both,  on  most  occasions  ;  but  this 
is  an  uncommon  moment,  Hurry,  and  vain  words  should 
not  be  too  freely  used.  I  would  rather  hear  you  speak 
plainly." 

"  You  shall  have  your  own  way,  Judith,  and  I  some 
suspect  you  always  will.  I  've  often  told  you  that  I  not 
only  like  you  better  than  any  other  young  woman  going, 
or,  for  that  matter,  better  than  all  the  young  women  going  ; 
but  you  must  have  obsarved,  Judith,  that  I  never  asked  you, 
in  up  and  down  tarms,  to  marry  me." 

"  I  have  observed  both,"  returned  the  girl,  a  smile 
struggling  about  her  beautiful  mouth,  in  spite  of  the  sin 
gular  and  engrossing  intentness  which  caused  her  cheeks 
to  flush  and  lighted  her  eyes  with  a  brilliancy  that  was  al 
most  dazzling ;  "  I  have  observed  both,  and  have  thought 
the  last  remarkable  for  a  man^f  Harry  March's  decision 
and  fearlessness." 


272  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  There  's  been  a  reason,  gal,  and  it 's  one  that  troubles 
me  even  now  —  nay,  don't  flush  up  so,  and  look  fierylike, 
for  there  are  thoughts  which  will  stick  long  in  any  man's 
mind,  as  there  be  words  .which  will  stick  in  his  throat ;  but 
then,  agin,  there  's  feelin's  that  will  get  the  better  of  'em 
all,  and  to  these  feelin's  I  find  I  must  submit.  You  've 
no  longer  a  father,  or  a  mother,  Judith  ;  and  it 's  morally 
impossible  that  you  and  Hetty  could  live  here,  alone,  allow 
ing  it  was  peace  and  the  Iroquois  was  quiet ;  but,  as  mat 
ters  stand,  not  only  would  you  starve,  but  you  'd  both  be 
prisoners,  or  scalped,  afore  a  week  was  out.  It 's  time  to 
think  of  a  change  and  a  husband,  and  if  you  '11  accept  of 
me,  all  that 's  past  shall  be  forgotten,  and  there  's  an  end 
on't." 

Judith  had  difficulty  in  repressing  her  impatience  until 
this  rude  declaration  and  offer  were  made,  which  she  evi 
dently  wished  to  hear,  and  which  she  now  listened  to  with 
a  willingness  that  might  well  have  excited  hope.  She 
hardly  allowed  the  young  man  to  conclude,  so  eager  was 
she  to  bring  him  to  the  point,  and  so  ready  to  answer. 

"There,  Hurry,  that's  enough,"  she  said,  raising  a 
hand,  as  if  to  stop  him  ;  "I  understand  you  as  well  as 
if  you  were  to  talk  a  month.  Yrou  prefer  me  to  other  girls, 
and  you  wish  me  to  become  your  wife." 

"  You  put  it  in  better  words  than  I  can  do,  Judith,  and 
I  wish  you  to  fancy  them  said,  just  as  you  most  like  to 
hear  'em." 

"They're  plain  enough,  Hurry,  and  'tis  fitting  they 
should  be  so.  This  is  no  place  to  trifle  or  deceive  in.  Now, 
listen  to  my  answer,  which  shall  be  as  sincere  as  your  offer. 
There  is  a  reason,  March,  why  I  should  never  " 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  273 

"  I  suppose  I  understand  you,  Judith  ;  but  if  I  'm  will 
ing  to  overlook  that  reason,  it 's  no  one's  consarn  but  mine. 
Now  don't  brighten  up  like  the  sky  at  sundown  ;  for  no 
offense  is  meant,  and  none  should  be  taken." 

"  I  do  not  brighten  up,  and  will  not  take  offense,"  said 
Judith,  struggling  to  repress  her  indignation.  "  There  is 
a  reason  why  I  should  not,  cannot,  ever  be  your  wife, 
Hurry,  that  you  seem  to  overlook,  and  which  it  is  my  duty 
now  to  tell  you,  as  plainly  as  you  have  asked  me  to  consent 
to  become  so.  J^do  not,  and  I  am  certain  that  I  never 
shall,  love  you  well  enough  to  marry  you.  No  man  can 
wish  for  a  wife  who  does  not  prefer  him  to  all  other  men  ; 
and  when  I  tell  you  this  frankly,  I  suppose  you  yourself 
will  thank  me  for  my  sincerity." 

"  O  Judith,  them  flaunting,  gay,  scarlet-coated  officers 
of  the  garrisons  have  done  all  this  mischief !  " 

"  Hush,  March  ;  do  not  calumniate  a  daughter  over  her 
mother's  grave.  Do  not,  when  I  only  wish  to  treat  you 
fairly,  give  me  reason  to  call  for  evil  on  your  head,  in  bit 
terness  of  heart !  Do  not  forget  that  I  am  a  woman,  and 
that  you  are  a  man ;  and  that  I  have  neither  father  nor 
brother  to  revenge  your  words." 

"  Well,  there  is  something  in  the  last,  and  I  '11  say  no 
more.  Take  time,  Judith,  and  think  better  on  this." 

"  I  want  no  time ;  my  mind  has  long  been  made  up, 
and  I  have  only  waited  for  you  to  speak  plainly,  to  answer 
plainly.  We  now  understand  each  other,  and  there  is  no 
use  in  saying  any  more." 

The  impetuous  earnestness  of  the  girl  awed  the  young 
man,  for  never  before  had  he  seen  her  so  serious  and  de 
termined.  In  most  of  their  previous  interviews  she  had 


274  THE  DEERSLAYER 

met  his  advances  with  evasion  or  sarcasm  ;  but  these 
Hurry  had  mistaken  for  female  coquetry,  and  had  supposed 
might  easily  be  converted  into  consent.  The  struggle  had 
been  with  himself,  about  offering ;  nor  had  he  ever  seri 
ously  believed  it  possible  that  Judith  would  refuse  to  be 
come  the  wife  of  the  handsomest  man  on  all  that  frontier. 
Now  that  the  refusal  came,  and  that  in  terms  so  decided 
as  to  put  all  caviling  out  of  the  question,  if  not  absolutely 
dumfounded  he  was  so  much  mortified  and  surprised  as 
to  feel  no  wish  to  attempt  to  change  her  resolution. 

"The  Glimmerglass  has  now  no  great  call  for  me,"  he 
exclaimed,  after  a  minute's  silence.  "  Old  Tom  is  gone  ; 
the  Hurons  are  as  plenty  on  shore  as  pigeons  in  the  woods, 
and  altogether,  it  is  getting  to  be  an  onsuitable  place." 

"Then  leave  it.  You  see  it  surrounded  by  dangers,  and 
there  is  no  reason  why  you  should  risk  your  life  for  others. 
Nor  do  I  know  that  you  can  be  of  any  service  to  us.  Go 
to-night ;  we  '11  never  accuse  you  of  having  done  anything 
forgetful  or  unmanly." 

"  If  I  do  go,  'twill  be  with  a  heavy  heart  on  your  ac 
count,  Judith  ;  I  would  rather  take  you  with  me." 

"  That  is  not  to  be  spoken  of  any  longer,  March  ;  but  I 
will  land  you  in  one  of  the  canoes,  as  soon  as  it  is  dark, 
and  you  can  strike  a  trail  for  the  nearest  garrison.  When 
you  reach  the  fort,  if  you  send  a  party  " 

Judith  smothered  the  words,  for  she  felt  that  it  was  hu 
miliating  to  be  thus  exposing  herself  to  the  comments  and 
reflections  of  one  who  was  not  disposed  to  view  her  conduct 
in  connection  with  all  in  these  garrisons  with  an  eye  of  favor. 
Hurry,  however,  caught  the  idea  ;  and,  without  perverting 
it,  as  the  girl  dreaded,  he  answered  to  the  purpose. 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  275 

"  I  understand  ivhat  you  would  say,  and  why  you  don't 
say  it,"  he  replied.  "  If  I  get  safe  to  the  fort,  a  party 
shall  start  on  the  trail  of  these  vagabonds,  and  I  '11  come 
with  it  myself  ;  for  I  should  like  to  see  you  and  Hetty  in 
a  place  of  safety,  before  we  part  forever." 

"Ah,  Harry  March,  had  you  always  spoken  thus,  felt 
thus,  my  feelings  towards  you  might  have  been  different !  " 

"  Is  it  too  late,  now,  Judith  ?  I  'm  rough,  and  a  woods 
man  ;  but  we  all  change  under  different  treatment  from 
what  we  have  been  used  to." 

11  It  is  too  late,  March.  I  can  never  feel  towards  you, 
or  any  other  man  but  one,  as  you  would  wish  to  have  me. 
There,  I  've  said  enough,  surely,  and  you  will  question  me 
no  further.  As  soon  as  it  is  dark,  I  or  the  Delaware  will 
put  you  on  the  shore  ;  you  will  make  the  best  of  your 
way  to  the  Mohawk,  and  the  nearest  garrison,  and  send 
all  you  can  to  our  assistance.  And,  Hurry,  we  are  now 
friends,  and  I  may  trust  you,  may  I  not  ? ' ' 

"  Sartain,  Judith  ;  though  our  fri'ndship  would  have 
been  all  the  warmer,  could  you  look  upon  me  as  I  look 
upon  you." 

Judith  hesitated,  and  some  powerful  emotion  was  strug 
gling  within  her.  Then,  as  if  determined  to  look  down  all 
weaknesses,  and  accomplish  her  purposes  at  every  hazard, 
she  spoke  more  plainly. 

"  You  will  find  a  captain  of  the  name  of  Warley,  at  the 
nearest  post,"  she  said,  pale  as  death,  and  even  trembling 
as  she  spoke ;  "I  think  it  likely  he  will  wish  to  head  the 
party ;  I  would  greatly  prefer  it  should  be  another.  If 
Captain  Warley  can  be  kept  back,  't  would  make  me  very 
happy." 


276  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  That 's  easier  said  than  done,  Judith  ;  for  these  offi 
cers  do  pretty  much  as  they  please.  The  major  will  order, 
and  captains,  and  lieutenants,  and  ensigns  must  obey.  I 
know  the  officer  you  mean ;  a  red-faced,  gay,  O-be-joyful 
sort  of  a  gentleman,  who  swallows  Madeira  enough  to 
drown  the  Mohawk,  and  yet  a  pleasant  talker.  All  the 
gals  in  the  valley  admire  him ;  and  they  say  he  admires 
all  the  gals.  I  don't  wonder  he  is  your  dislike,  Judith, 
for  he 's  a  very  gin'ral  lover,  if  he  is  n't  a  gin'ral 
officer." 

Judith  did  not  answer,  though  her  frame  shook,  and 
her  color  changed  from  pale  to  crimson,  and  from  crimson 
back  again  to  the  hue  of  death. 

"Alas  !  my  poor  mother  !  "  she  ejaculated  mentally,  in 
stead  of  uttering  it  aloud  ;  "  we  are  over  thy  grave,  but  little 
dost  thou  know  how  much  thy  lessons  have  been  forgotten  ; 
thy  care  neglected  ;  thy  love  defeated  !  " 

With  these  words  she  arose,  and  signified  to  Hurry 
that  she  had  no  more  to  communicate. 

CHAPTER  X 

All  this  time  Hetty  had  remained  seated  in  the  head  of 
the  scow,  looking  sorrowfully  into  the  water  which  held 
the  body  of  her  mother,  as  well  as  that  of  the  man  whom 
she  had  been  taught  to  consider  her  father.  Hist  stood 
near  her  in  gentle  quiet,  but  had  no  consolation  to  offer 
in  words.  The  habits  of  her  people  taught  her  reserve  in 
this  respect ;  and  the  habits  of  her  sex  induced  her  to 
wait  patiently  for  a  moment  when  she  might  manifest 
some  soothing  sympathy  by  means  of  acts  rather  than  of 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  277 

speech.  Chingachgook  held  himself  a  little  aloof,  in  grave 
reserve,  looking  like  a  warrior,  but  feeling  like  a  man. 

Judith  joined  her  sister  with  an  air  of  dignity  and  so 
lemnity  it  was  not  her  practice  to  show ;  and,  though  the 
gleamings  of  anguish  were  still  visible  on  her  beautiful 
face,  when  she  spoke  it  was  firmly  and  without  tremor. 
At  that  instant  Hist  and  the  Delaware  withdrew,  moving 
towards  Hurry,  in  the  other  end  of  the  boat. 

"  Sister,"  said  Judith,  kindly,  "  I  have  much  to  say  to 
you ;  we  will  get  into  this  canoe,  and  paddle  off  to  a  dis 
tance  from  the  ark ;  the  secrets  of  two  orphans  ought  not 
to  be  heard  by  every  ear." 

"  Certainly,  Judith,  by  the  ears  of  their  parents.  Let 
Hurry  lift  the  grapnel,  and  move  away  with  the  ark,  and 
leave  us  here,  near  the  graves  of  father  and  mother,  to 
say  what  we  may  have  to  say." 

"  Father !  "  repeated  Judith,  slowly,  the  blood  for  the 
first  time  since  her  parting  with  March  mounting  to  her 
cheeks  ;  "  he  was  no  father  of  ours,  Hetty  !  That  we  had 
from  his  own  mouth,  and  in  his  dying  moments." 

"Are  you  glad,  Judith,  to  find  you  had  no  father?  He 
took  care  of  us,  and  fed  us,  and  clothed  us,  and  loved  us ; 
a  father  could  have  done  no  more.  I  don't  understand 
why  he  was  n't  a  father." 

"  Never  mind,  dear  child,  but  let  us  do  as  you  have 
said.  It  may  be  well  to  remain  here,  and  let  the  ark  move 
a  little  away.  Do  you  prepare  the  canoe,  and  I  will  tell 
Hurry  and  the  Indians  our  wishes." 

This  was  soon  and  simply  done  ;  the  ark  moving,  with 
measured  strokes  of  the  sweeps,  a  hundred  yards  from  the 
spot,  leaving  the  girls  floating,  seemingly  in  air,  above  the 


278  THE  DEERSLAYER 

place  of  the  dead,  so  buoyant  was  the  light  vessel  that  held 
them,  and  so  limpid  the  element  by  which  it  was  sustained. 

"The  death  of  Thomas  H utter,"  Judith  commenced, 
after  a  short  pause  had  prepared  her  sister  to  receive  her 
communications,  "  has  altered  all  our  prospects,  Hetty. 
If  he  was  not  our  father,  we  are  sisters,  and  must  feel 
alike  and  live  together." 

"  How  do  I  know,  Judith,  that  you  would  n't  be  as  glad 
to  find  I  am  not  your  sister  as  you  are  in  finding  that 
Thomas  Hutter,  as  you  call  him,  was  not  your  father  ?  I 
am  only  half-witted,  and  few  people  like  to  have  half-witted 
relations  ;  and  then  I  'm  not  handsome  —  at  least,  not  as 
handsome  as  you  —  and  you  may  wish  a  handsomer  sister." 

"  No,  no,  Hetty.    You  and  you  only  are  my  sister  — 
my  heart  and  my  love  for  you  tell  me  that ;  and  mother 
was  my  mother  —  of  that,  too,  am  I  glad  and  proud  ;  for 
she  was  a  mother  to  be  proud  of  —  but  father  was  not 
father." 

"Hush,  Judith!  His  spirit  may  be  near  —  it  would 
grieve  it  to  hear  his  children  talking  so,  and  that,  too, 
over  his  very  grave.  Children  should  never  grieve  parents, 
mother  often  told  me,  and  especially  when  they  are  dead!  " 

"  Poor  Hetty !  They  are  happily  removed  beyond  all 
cares  on  our  accounts.  The  bodies  of  mother  and  Thomas 
Hutter  lie  together  in  the  lake,  and  we  will  hope  that  the 
spirits  of  both  are  with  God.  That  we,  the  children  of  one 
of  them,  remain  on  earth  is  certain  ;  it  is  now  proper  to 
know  what  we  are  to  do  in  the  future." 

"If  we  are  not  Thomas  Hutter's  children,  Judith,  no 
one  will  dispute  our  right  to  his  property.  We  have  the 
castle,  and  the  ark,  and  the  canoes,  and  the  woods,  and 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  279 

the  lakes,  the  same  as  when  he  was  living ;  and  what  can 
prevent  us  from  staying  here,  and  passing  our  lives  just 
as  we  ever  have  done  ?  " 

"  No,  no,  poor  sister.  This  can  no  longer  be.  Two 
girls  would  not  be  safe  here,  even  should  these  Hurons 
fail  in  getting  us  into  their  power.  Even  father  had  as 
much  as  he  could  sometimes  do  to  keep  peace  upon  the 
lake  ;  and  we  should  fail  altogether.  We  must  quit  this 
spot,  Hetty,  and  remove  into  the  settlements." 

"  I  am  sorry  you  think  so,  Judith,"  returned  Hetty, 
dropping  her  head  on  her  bosom,  and  looking  thoughtfully 
down  at  the  spot  where  the  funeral  pile  of  her  mother 
could  just  be  seen.  "  I  am  very  sorry  to  hear  it.  I  would 
rather  stay  here,  where,  if  I  was  n't  born,  I  've  passed  my 
life.  I  don't  like  the  settlements  ;  they  are  full  of  wicked 
ness  and  heart-burnings,  while  God  dwells  unoffended  in 
these  hills !  I  love  the  trees,  and  the  mountains,  and  the 
lake,  and  the  springs  ;  all  that  his  bounty  has  given  us, 
and  it  would  grieve  me  sorely,  Judith,  to  be  forced  to  quit 
them.  You  are  handsome,  and  not  at  all  half-witted,  and 
one  day  you  will  marry,  and  then  you  will  have  a  husband 
and  I  a  brother  to  take  care  of  us,  if  women  can't  really 
take  care  of  themselves  in  such  a  place  as  this." 

"Ah  !  if  this  could  be  so,  Hetty,  then,  indeed,  I  could 
now  be  a  thousand  times  happier  in  these  woods  than  in 
the  settlements  !  Once  I  did  not  feel  thus,  but  now  I  do. 
Yet  where  is  the  man  to  turn  this  beautiful  place  into 
such  a  garden  of  Eden  for  us  ?  " 

"  Harry  March  loves  you,  sister,"  returned  poor  Hetty, 
unconsciously  picking  the  bark  off  the  canoe  as  she  spoke. 
"He  would  be  glad  to  be  your  husband,  I  'm  sure  ;  and 


280  THE  DEERSLAYER 

a  stouter  and  a  braver  youth  is  not  to  be  met  with  the 
whole  country  round." 

"  Harry  March  and  I  understand  each  other,  and  no 
more  need  be  said  about  him.  There  is  one  —  but  no 
matter.  It  is  all  in  the  hands  of  Providence,  and  we  must 
shortly  come  to  some  conclusion  about  our  future  manner 
of  living.  Remain  here  —  that  is,  remain  here  alone  —  we 
cannot ;  and  perhaps  no  occasion  will  ever  offer  for  remain 
ing  in  the  manner  you  think  of.  It  is  time  too,  Hetty,  we 
should  learn  all  we  can  concerning  our  relations  and  family. 
It  is  not  probable  we  are  altogether  without  relations,  and 
they  may  be  glad  to  see  us.  The  old  chest  is  now  our 
property,  and  we  have  a  right  to  look  into  it,  and  learn  all 
we  can  by  what  it  holds.  Mother  was  so  very  different 
from  Thomas  Hutter,  that,  now  I  know  we  are  not  his 
children,  I  burn  with  a  desire  to  know  whose  children  we 
can  be.  There  are  papers  in  that  chest,  I  am  certain,  and 
those  papers  may  tell  us  all  about  our  parents  and  natural 
friends." 

"  Well,  Judith,  you  know  best,  for  you  are  cleverer  than 
common,  mother  always  said,  and  I  am  only  half-witted. 
Now  father  and  mother  are  dead,  I  don't  much  care  for 
any  relations  but  you,  and  don't  think  I  could  love  them  I 
never  saw  as  well  as  I  ought.  If  you  don't  like  to  marry 
Hurry,  I  don't  see  who  you  can  choose  for  a  husband,  and 
then  I  fear  we  shall  have  to  quit  the  lake,  after  all." 

"  What  do  you  think  of  Deerslayer,  Hetty  ?  "  asked 
Judith,  bencling  forward  like  her  unsophisticated  sister, 
and  endeavoring  to  conceal  her  embarrassment  in  a  similar 
manner.  "Would  he  not  make  a  brother-in-law  to  your 
liking  ?  " 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  281 

"  Deerslayer !  "  repeated  the  other,  looking  up  in  un 
feigned  surprise ;  "  why,  Judith,  Deerslayer  is  n't  in  the 
least  comely,  and  is  altogether  unfit  for  one  like  you !  " 

"  He  is  not  ill-looking,  Hetty ;  and  beauty  in  a  man  is 
not  of  much  matter." 

"  Do  you  think  so,  Judith  ?  I  know  that  beauty  is  of  no 
great  matter,  in  man  or  woman,  in  the  eyes  of  God  ;  for 
mother  has  often  told  me  so,  when  she  thought  I  might 
have  been  sorry  I  was  not  as  handsome  as  you  —  though 
she  need  n't  have  been  uneasy  on  that  account,  for  I  never 
coveted  anything  that  is  yours,  sister :  but  tell  me  so  she 
did  ;  still,  beauty  is  very  pleasant  to  the  eye,  in  both.  I 
think,  if  I  were  a  man,  I  should  pine  more  for  good  looks 
than  I  do  as  a  girl.  A  handsome  man  is  a  more  pleasing 
sight  than  a  handsome  woman." 

"  Poor  child !  you  scarce  know  what  you  say  or  what 
you  mean !  Beauty  in  our  sex  is  something,  but  in  man  it 
passes  for  little.  To  be  sure,  a  man  ought  to  be  tall,  but 
others  are  tall  as  well  as  Hurry  ;  and  active  —  I  think  I 
know  those  that  are  more  active  ;  and  strong  —  well,  he 
has  n't  all  the  strength  in  the  world  ;  and  brave  —  I  'm 
certain  I  can  name  a  youth  who  is  braver." 

"  This  is  strange,  Judith.  I  did  n't  think  the  earth  held 
a  handsomer,  or  a  stronger,  or  a  more  active,  or  a  braver 
man  than  Hurry  Harry.  I  am  sure  /  never  met  his  equal 
in  either  of  these  things." 

"  Well,  well,  Hetty,  say  no  more  of  this.  The  sun  has 
set,  and  the  ark  is  drifting  away  from  us  ;  let*  us  paddle 
up  to  the  scow.  This  night  I  shall  look  into  the  chest,  and 
to-morrow  shall  determine  what  we  are  to  do.  As  for  the 
Hurons,  now  we  can  use  our  stores  without  fear  of  Thomas 


282  THE  DEERSLAYER 

Hutter,  they  will  be  easily  bought  off.  Let  me  get  Deer- 
slayer  once  out  of  their  hands,  and  a  single  hour  shall  bring 
things  to  an  understanding." 

Judith  spoke  with  decision,  and  authority,  and,  suiting 
her  action  to  her  words,  dipped  her  paddle  into  the  water 
and  began  to  propel  the  light  craft  forward.  This  reversed 
her  own  position,  and  gave  her  a  view  of  the  whole  lake. 
At  once  she  uttered  an  exclamation. 

11  Hetty,  is  not  that  a  canoe,  just  passing  behind  the 
castle  ?  —  here,  more  in  the  direction  of  the  point,  I  mean  ; 
it  is  hid,  now  ;  but,  certainly,  I  saw  a  canoe  stealing  behind 
the  logs." 

"I  've  seen  it  some  time,"  Hetty  quietly  answered,  for 
the  Indians  had  few  terrors  for  her,  "  but  I  did  not  think 
it  right  to  talk  about  such  things  over  mother's  grave.  The 
canoe  came  from  the  camp,  Judith,  and  was  paddled  by  a 
single  man;  he  seemed  to  be  Deerslayer,  and  no  Iroquois." 

"  Deerslayer !  "  returned  the  other,  with  much  of  her 
native  impetuosity.  "  That  can't  be !  Deerslayer  is  a 
prisoner,  and  I  have  been  thinking  of  the  means  of  setting 
him  free.  Why  did  you  fancy  it  Deerslayer,  child  ?  " 

"  You  can  look  for  yourself,  sister  ;  there  comes  the 
canoe  in  sight  again,  on  this  side  of  the  hut." 

Sure  enough,  the  light  boat  had  passed  the  building, 
and  was  now  steadily  advancing  towards  the  ark ;  the 
persons  on  board  of  which  were  already  collecting  in  the 
head  of  the  scow  to  receive  their  visitor.  A  single  glance 
sufficed  to  assure  Judith  that  her  sister  was  right,  and  that 
Deerslayer  was  alone  in  the  canoe.  His  approach  was  so 
calm  and  leisurely,  however,  as  to  fill  her  with  wonder, 
since  a  man  who  had  effected  his  escape  from  enemies,  by 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  283 

either  artifice  or  violence,  would  not  be  apt  to  move  with 
the  steadiness  and  deliberation  with  which  his  paddle  swept 
the  water.  By  this  time  the  day  was  fairly  departing,  and 
objects  were  already  seen  dimly  under  the  shores.  In  the 
broad  lake,  however,  the  light  still  lingered,  and  around 
the  immediate  scene  of  the  present  incidents,  which  was 
less  shaded  than  most  of  the  sheet,  being  in  its  broadest 
part,  it  cast  a  glare  that  bore  some  faint  resemblance  to  the 
warm  tints  of  an  Italian  or  Grecian  sunset.  The  logs  of 
the  hut  and  ark  had  a  sort  of  purple  hue,  blended  with  the 
growing  obscurity,  and  the  bark  of  the  hunter's  boat  was 
losing  its  distinctness,  in  colors  richer,  but  more  mellowed, 
than  those  it  showed  under  a  bright  sun.  As  the  two  canoes 
approached  each  other  —  for  Judith  and  her  sister  had  plied 
their  paddles  so  as  to  intercept  the  unexpected  visitor  ere 
he  reached  the  ark  —  even  Deerslayer's  sunburned  counte 
nance  wore  a  brighter  aspect  than  common,  under  the 
pleasing  tints  that  seemed  to  dance  in  the  atmosphere. 

"Welcome  —  welcome,  Deerslayer  !  "  exclaimed  the 
girl,  as  the  canoes  floated  at  each  other's  sides  ;  "we  have 
had  a  melancholy  —  a  frightful  day ;  but  your  return  is, 
at  least,  one  misfortune  the  less.  Have  the  Hurons  become 
more  humane  and  let  you  go,  or  have  you  escaped  from 
the  wretches  by  your  own  courage  and  skill  ?  " 

"  Neither,  Judith,  neither  one  nor  t'other.  The  Mingos  are 
Mingos  still,  and  will  live  and  die  Mingos  ;  it  is  not  likely 
their  natur's  will  ever  undergo  much  improvement.  Well, 
they  've  their  gifts,  and  we  've  our'n,  Judith,  and  it  does  n't 
much  become  either  to  speak  ill  of  what  the  Lord  has 
created  ;  though,  if  the  truth  must  be  said,  I  find  it  a  sore 
trial  to  think  kindly  or  to  talk  kindly  of  them  vagabonds." 


284  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  But  if  you  have  not  escaped  from  the  savages,  how 
came  you  here  ?  " 

"  I !  —  Oh  !  That 's  not  very  onaccountable,  if  I  am  my 
self,  Judith.  I  'm  out  on  furlough." 

"  Furlough  !  That  word  has  a  meaning  among  the  sol 
diers  that  I  understand  ;  I  cannot  tell  what  it  signifies 
when  used  by  a  prisoner." 

"  It  means  just  the  same.  You  're  right  enough  ;  the 
soldiers  do  use  it,  and  just  in  the  same  way  as  I  use  it. 
A  furlough  is  when  a  man  has  leave  to  quit  a  camp,  or  a 
garrison,  for  a  sartain  specified  time  ;  at  the  end  of  which 
he  is  to  come  back  and  shoulder  his  musket,  or  submit 
to  his  torments,  just  as  he  may  happen  to  be  a  soldier,  or 
a  captyve.  Being  the  last,  I  must  take  the  chances  of  a 
prisoner." 

"  Have  the  Hurons  suffered  you  to  quit  them  in  this 
manner,  without  watch  or  guard  ?  " 

"  Sartain  —  I  could  n't  have  come  in  any  other  manner 
unless,  indeed,  it  had  been  by  a  bold  rising,  or  a  sarcum- 
vention." 

"  What  pledge  have  they  that  you  will  ever  return  ?  " 

"  My  word,"  answered  the  hunter,  simply.  "  Yes,  I  own 
I  gave  'em  that,  and  big  fools  would  they  have  been  to  let 
me  come  without  it !  Why,  in  that  case,  I  should  n't  have 
been  obliged  to  go  back  and  ondergo  any  deviltries  their 
fury  may  invent,  but  might  have  shouldered  my  rifle,  and 
made  the  best  of  my  way  to  the  Delaware  villages.  But, 
Lord !  Judith,  they  know'd  this,  just  as  well  as  you  and  I 
do,  and  would  no  more  let  me  come  away,  without  a  prom 
ise  to  go  back,  than  they  would  let  the  wolves  dig  up  the 
bones  of  their  fathers  !  " 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  285 

"  Is  it  possible  you  mean  to  do  this  act  of  extraordinary 
self-destruction  and  recklessness  ?  " 

"  Anan  !  " 

" 1  ask  if  it  can  be  possible  that  you  expect  to  be  able 
to  put  yourself  again  in  the  power  of  such  ruthless  enemies 
by  keeping  your  word  ?  " 

Deerslayer  looked  at  his  fair  questioner  for  a  moment 
with  stern  displeasure.  Then  the  expression  of  his  honest 
and  guileless  face  suddenly  changed,  lighting  as  by  a  quick 
illumination  of  thought ;'  after  which  he  laughed  in  his 
ordinary  manner. 

"  I  did  n't  understand  you  at  first,  Judith  —  no,  I  did  n't. 
Do  you  believe  that  Chingachgook  and  Hurry  Harry  won't 
suffer  it ;  but  you  don't  know  mankind  thoroughly  yet,  I 
see.  The  Delaware  would  be  the  last  man  on  'arth  to  offer 
any  objections  to  what  he  knows  is  a  duty ;  and,  as  for 
March,  he  does  n't  care  enough  about  any  creatur'  but  him 
self  to  spend  many  words  on  such  a  subject.  If  he  did, 
't  would  make  no  great  difference,  hows'ever ;  but  not  he 
—  for  he  thinks  more  of  his  gains  than  of  even  his  own 
word.  As  for  my  promises,  or  your'n,  Judith,  or  anybody 
else's,  they  give  him  no  consarn.  Don't  be  under  any  on- 
easiness,  therefore,  gal ;  I  shall  be  allowed  to  go  back 
according  to  the  furlough  ;  and  if  difficulties  was  made, 
I  've  not  been  brought  up  and  edicated,  as  one  may  say, 
in  the  woods,  without  knowing  how  to  look  'em  down." 

Judith  made  no  answer  for  some  little  time.  All  her 
feelings  as  a  woman  revolted  at  the  cruel  fate  that  she 
fancied  Deerslayer  was  drawing  down  upon  himself,  while 
the  sense  of  right,  which  God  has  implanted  in  every  human 
breast,  told  her  to  admire  an  integrity  as  indomitable  and 


286  THE  DEERSLAYER 

unpretending  as  that  which  the  other  so  unconsciously 
displayed.  Argument,  she  felt,  would  be  useless ;  nor 
was  she,  at  that  moment,  disposed  to  lessen  the  dig 
nity  and  high  principle  that  were  so  striking  in  the  in 
tentions  of  the  hunter,  by  any  attempt  to  turn  him  from 
his  purpose.  That  something  might  yet  occur  to  supersede 
the  necessity  for  this  self-immolation,  she  tried  to  hope  ; 
and  then  she  proceeded  to  ascertain  the  facts,  in  order 
that  her  own  conduct  might  be  regulated  by  her  knowl 
edge  of  circumstances. 

"  When  is  your  furlough  out,  Deerslayer  ?  "  she  asked, 
after  both  canoes  were  heading  towards  the  ark,  and 
moving,  with  scarcely  a  perceptible  effort  of  the  paddles, 
through  the  water. 

"  To-morrow  noon  ;  not  a  minute  afore  ;  and  you  may 
depend  on  it,  Judith,  I  shan't  quit  what  I  call  Christian 
company,  to  go  and  give  myself  up  to  them  vagabonds, 
an  instant  sooner  than  is  downright  necessary.  They  be 
gin  to  fear  a  visit  from  the  garrisons,  and  wouldn't 
lengthen  the  time  a  moment ;  and  it 's  pretty  well  under 
stood  atween  us  that,  should  I  fail  in  my  arr'nd,  the  tor 
ments  are  to  take  place  when  the  sun  begins  to  fall,  that 
they  may  strike  upon  their  home  trail  as  soon  as  it  is  dark." 

This  was  said  solemnly,  as  if  the  thought  of  what  was 
believed  to  be  in  reserve  duly  weighed  on  the  prisoner's 
mind,  and  yet  so  simply,  and  without  a  parade  of  suffering, 
as  rather  to  repel  than  to  invite  any  open  manifestations 
of  sympathy. 

"  Are  they  bent  on  revenging  their  losses  ?  "  Judith 
asked,  faintly,  her  own  high  spirit  yielding  to  the  influ 
ence  of  the  other's  quiet  but  dignified  integrity  of  purpose. 


THE  MIDNIGHT  EXPEDITION  287 

"  Downright,  if  I  can  judge  of  Indian  inclinations  by 
the  symptoms.  They  think,  hows 'ever,  I  don't  suspect 
their  designs,  I  do  believe ;  but  one  that  has  lived  so  long 
among  men  of  redskin  gifts  is  no  more  likely  to  be  misled 
in  Injin  feelin's  than  a  true  hunter  is  like  to  lose  his  trail, 
or  a  stanch  hound  his  scent.  My  own  judgment  is  greatly 
agin  my  own  escape,  for  I  see  the  women  are  a  good  deal 
enraged  on  behalf  of  Hist,  though  I  say  it,  perhaps,  that 
should  n't  say  it  —  seein'  that  I  had  a  considerable  hand 
myself  in  getting  the  gal  off.  Then  there  was  a  cruel  mur 
der  in  their  camp  last  night,  and  that  shot  might  just  as 
well  have  been  fired  into  my  breast.  Hows'ever,  come 
what  will,  the  Sarpent  and  his  wife  will  be  safe,  and  that 
is  some  happiness,  in  any  case." 

"  Oh,  Deerslayer,  they  will  think  better  of  this,  since 
they  have  given  you  until  to-morrow  noon  to  make  up  your 
mind!  " 

"  I  judge  not,  Judith  ;  yes,  I  judge  not.  An  Injin  is  an 
Injin,  gal,  and  it 's  pretty  much  hopeless  to  think  of  swarv- 
ing  him,  when  he  's  got  the  scent  and  follows  it  with  his 
nose  in  the  air.  The  Delawares,  now,  are  a  half-christian 
ized  tribe  —  not  that  I  think  such  sort  of  Christians  much 
better  than  your  whole-blooded  disbelievers  —  but,  never 
theless,  what  good  half-christianizing  can  do  to  a  man  some 
among  'em  have  got,  and  yet  revenge  clings  to  their  hearts 
like  the  wild  creepers  here  to  the  tree  !  Then  I  slew  one  of 
the  best  and  boldest  of  their  warriors,  they  say,  and  it  is 
too  much  to  expect  that  they  should  captivate  the  man  who 
did  this  deed,  in  the  very  same  scouting  on  which  it  was 
performed,  and  they  take  no  account  of  the  matter.  Had 
a  month  or  so  gone  by,  their  feelin's  would  have  been 


288  THE  DEERSLAYER 

softened  down,  and  we  might  have  met  in  a  more  friendly 
way  ;  but  it  is  as  it  is.  Judith,  this  is  talking  of  nothing 
but  myself  and  my  own  consarns,  when  you  have  had  trou 
ble  enough,  and  may  want  to  consult  a  fri'nd  a  little  about 
your  own  matters.  I  have  heard  the  whole  story.  Well, 
life  is  unsartain  at  the  best.  If  you  've  lost  a  stanch  fri'nd, 
Providence  will  raise  up  new  ones  in  his  stead  ;  and  I  shall 
be  right  glad  to  be  counted  as  such.  Is  the  old  man  laid 
in  the  water,  where  I  should  think  his  body  would  like  to 
rest  ? ' ' 

"  It  is,  Deerslayer,"  answered  Judith,  almost  inaudibly. 
"  That  duty  has  just  been  performed.  You  are  right  in 
thinking  that  I  wish  to  consult  a  friend  ;  and  that  friend 
is  yourself.  Hurry  Harry  is  about  to  leave  us ;  when  he 
is  gone,  and  we  have  got  a  little  over  the  feelings  of  this 
solemn  office,  I  hope  you  will  give  me  an  hour  alone. 
Hetty  and  I  are  at  a  loss  what  to  do." 

"  That 's  quite  natural,  coming  as  things  have,  suddenly 
and  fearfully.  But  here  's  the  ark,  and  we  '11  say  more  of 
this  when  there  is  a  better  opportunity." 


PART  V.     THE  FURLOUGH 


CHAPTER  I 

The  meeting  between  Deerslayer  and  his  friends  in  the 
ark  was  grave  and  anxious.  The  two  Indians,  in  particu 
lar,  read  in  his  manner  that  he  was  not  a  successful  fugi 
tive,  and  a  few  words  sufficed  to  let  them  comprehend  the 
nature  of  what  their  friend  had  termed  his  "furlough." 
It  was  now  getting  to  be  dark,  and  it  was  decided  to 
sweep  the  ark  up  to  the  castle,  and  secure  it  in  its  ordi 
nary  berth.  The  decision  was  come  to,  in  some  measure, 
on  account  of  the  fact  that  all  the  canoes  were  again  in 
the  possession  of  their  proper  owners,  but  principally 
from  the  security  that  was  created  by  the  representations 
of  Deerslayer.  He  had  examined  the  state  of  things 
among  the  Hurons,  and  felt  satisfied  that  they  meditated 
no  further  hostilities  during  the  night,  the  loss  they  had 
met  having  indisposed  them  to  further  exertions  for  the 
moment.  Then  he  had  a  proposition  to  make,  —  the  ob 
ject  of  his  visit ;  and,  if  this  were  accepted,  the  war  would 
at  once  terminate  between  the  parties  ;  and  it  was  improba 
ble  that  the  Hurons  would  anticipate  the  failure  of  a  pro 
ject  on  which  their  chiefs  had  apparently  set  their  hearts, 
by  having  recourse  to  violence  previously  to  the  return  of 
their  messenger. 

As  soon  as  the  ark  was  properly  secured,  the  different 


290  THE  DEERSLAYER 

members  of  the  party  occupied  themselves  in  their  several 
peculiar  manners.  The  women  busied  themselves  in  prep 
arations  for  the  evening  meal.  Hurry  set  about  repairing 
his  moccasins,  by  the  light  of  a  blazing  knot ;  Chingach- 
gook  seated  himself  in  gloomy  thought ;  while  Deerslayer 
proceeded,  in  a  manner  equally  free  from  affectation  and 
concern,  to  examine  "  Killdeer,"  the  rifle  of  Hutter,  that 
has  been  already  mentioned,  and  which  subsequently  be 
came  so  celebrated  in  the  hands  of  the  individual  who  was 
now  making  a  survey  of  its  merits.  The  piece  was  a  little 
longer  than  usual,  and  had  evidently  been  turned  out  from 
the  workshop  of  some  manufacturer  of  a  superior  order. 
It  had  a  few  silver  ornaments ;  though,  on  the  whole,  it 
would  have  been  deemed  a  plain  piece  by  most  frontier- 
men  ;  its  great  merit  consisting  in  the  accuracy  of  its 
bore,  the  perfection  of  the  details,  and  the  excellence  of  the 
metal.  Again  and  again  did  the  hunter  apply  the  breech  to 
his  shoulder,  and  glance  his  eye  along  the  sights,  and  as 
often  did  he  poise  his  body  and  raise  the  weapon  slowly, 
as  if  about  to  catch  an  aim  at  a  deer,  in  order  to  try  the 
weight,  and  to  ascertain  its  fitness  for  quick  and  accurate 
firing. 

'  T  is  a  glorious  we'pon,  Hurry  !  "  Deerslayer  at  length 
exclaimed,  "  and  it  may  be  thought  a  pity  that  it  has  fallen 
into  the  hands  of  women.  The  hunters  have  told  me  of 
its  explites,  and  by  all  I  have  heard,  I  should  set  it 
down  as  sartain  death  in  exper'enced  hands.  Hearken 
to  the  tick  of  this  lock  —  a  wolf-trap  has  n't  a  livelier 
spring ;  pan  and  cock  speak  together,  like  two  singing 
masters  undertaking  a  psalm  in  meetin'.  I  never  did  see 
so  true  a  bore,  Hurry,  that 's  sartain." 


THE  FURLOUGH  291 

"  Aye,  Old  Tom  used  to  give  the  piece  a  character, 
though  he  was  n't  the  man  to  particularize  the  raal  natur' 
of  any  sort  of  firearms,  in  practice,"  returned  March,  pass 
ing  the  deer's  thongs  through  the  moccasin  with  the  cool 
ness  of  a  cobbler.  "  He  was  no  marksman,  that  we  must 
all  allow ;  but  he  had  his  good  p'ints  as  well  as  his  bad 
ones.  I  have  had  hopes  that  Judith  might  consait  the 
idee  of  giving  Killdeer  to  me." 

"  There  's  no  saying  what  young  women  may  do,  that 's 
a  truth,  Hurry ;  and  I  suppose  you  're  as  likely  to  own 
the  rifle  as  another.  Still,  when  things  are  so  very  near 
perfection,  it 's  a  pity  not  to  reach  it  entirely." 

"What  do  you  mean  by  that?  Would  not  that  piece 
look  as  well  on  my  shoulder  as  on  any  man's  ?  " 

"  As  for  looks,  I  say  nothing.  You  are  both  good- 
looking,  and  might  make  what  is  called  a  good-looking 
couple.  But  the  true  p'int  is  as  to  conduct.  More  deer 
would  fall  in  one  day  by  that  piece  in  some  men's  hands 
than  would  fall  in  a  week  in  your'n,  Hurry  !  I  've  seen 
you  try  ;  you  remember  the  buck  t'  other  day  ? " 

"  That  buck  was  out  of  season  ;  and  who  wishes  to  kill 
venison  out  of  season  ?  I  was  merely  trying  to  frighten 
the  creatur',  and  I  think  you  will  own  that  he  was  pretty 
well  skeared  at  any  rate." 

"  Well,  well,  have  it  as  you  say.  But  this  is  a  lordly 
piece,  and  would  make  a  steady  hand  and  quick  eye  the 
King  of  the  Woods." 

"  Then  keep  it,  Deerslayer,  and  become  King  of  the 
Woods,"  said  Judith,  earnestly,  who  had  heard  the  conver 
sation.  "It  can  never  be  in  better  hands  than  it  is  at  this 
there  I  hope  it  will  remain  these  fifty  years." 


292  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  Judith,  you  can't  be  in  'arnest !  "  exclaimed  Deerslayer, 
taken  so  much  by  surprise  as  to  betray  more  emotion  than 
it  was  usual  for  him  to  manifest  on  ordinary  occasions. 
"  Such  a  gift  would  be  fit  for  a  raal  king  to  make ;  yes, 
and  for  a  raal  king  to  receive." 

"  I  never  was  more  in  earnest  in  my  life,  Deerslayer, 
and  I  am  as  much  in  earnest  in  the  wish  as  in  the  gift.". 

"  Well,  gal,  well ;  we  '11  find  time  to  talk  of  this  agin. 
You  mustn't  be  down-hearted,  Hurry,  for  Judith  is  a 
sprightly  young  woman,  and  she  has  a  quick  reason  ;  she 
knows  that  the  credit  of  her  father's  rifle  is  safer  in  my 
hands  than  it  can  possibly  be  in  your'n  ;  and,  therefore, 
you  mustn't  be  down-hearted.  In  other  matters,  more  to 
your  liking,  too,  you  '11  find  she  '11  give  you  the  prefer 
ence." 

Hurry  growled  out  his  dissatisfaction  ;  but  he  was  too 
intent  on  quitting  the  lake,  and  in  making  his  preparations, 
to  waste  his  breath  on  a  subject  of  this  nature.  Shortly 
after,  the  supper  was  ready ;  it  was  eaten  in  silence,  as 
sadness  and  thought  contributed  their  share  to  the  general 
desire  not  to  converse. 

The  meal  ended,  and  the  humble  preparations  removed, 
the  whole  party  assembled  on  the  platform  to  hear  the 
expected  intelligence  from  Deerslayer  on  the  subject  of  his 
visit.  Stools  were  brought  from  the  ark  and  the  hut,  and 
the  six  placed  themselves  in  a  circle  near  the  door,  watch 
ing  each  other's  countenances  by  the  scanty  means  that 
were  furnished  by  a  lovely  starlight  night.  Along  the 
shore,  beneath  the  mountains,  lay  the  usual  body  of 
gloom  ;  but  in  the  broad  lake  no  shadow  was  cast,  and  a 
thousand  mimic  stars  were  dancing  in  the  limpid  element, 


THE  FURLOUGH  293 

!  that  was  just  stirred  enough  by  the  evening  air  to  set  them 
all  in  motion. 

"  Now,  Deerslayer,"  commenced  Judith,  "  tell  us  all  the 
Hurons  have  to  say,  and  the  reason  why  they  have  sent 
you  on  parole,  to  make  us  some  offer." 

"  Well,  then,  if  the  message  must  be  given,  it  must ; 
and  perhaps  there  is  no  use  in  putting  it  off.  Hurry  will 
soon  be  wanting  to  set  out  on  his  journey  to  the  river,  and 
the  stars  rise  and  set,  just  as  if  they  cared  for  neither 
Injin  nor  message.  Ah  's  me  !  't  is  n't  a  pleasant,  and  I 
know  it 's  a  useless,  arr'nd  ;  but  it  must  be  told.  The 
simple  fact  is  this.  When  the  party  came  back  from  the 
castle,  the  Mingos  held  a  council,  and  bitter  thoughts  were 
uppermost,  as  was  plainly  to  be  seen  by  their  gloomy  faces. 
No  one  likes  to  be  beaten,  and  a  redskin  as  little  as  a 
paleface.  Well,  when  they  had  smoked  upon  it,  and  made 
their  speeches,  and  their  council-fire  had  burnt  low,  the 
matter  came  out.  It  seems  the  elders  among  'em  consaited 
I  was  a  man  to  be  trusted  on  a  furlough.  It  is  n't  often  " 
—  added  the  hunter,  with  a  pleasing  consciousness  that 
his  previous  life  justified  this  implicit  reliance  on  his  good 
faith—  "it  is  n't  often  they  consait  anything  so  good  of 
a  paleface  ;  but  so  they  did  with  me,  and  therefore  they 
did  n't  hesitate  to  speak  their  minds,  which  is  just  this  : 
You  see  the  state  of  things.  The  lake  and  all  on  it,  they 
fancy,  lie  at  their  marcy,  and,  therefore,  they  send  by  me 
this  belt  of  wampum,"  showing  the  article  in  question  to 
the  Delaware,  as  he  spoke,  "with  these  words  :  Tell  the 
Sarpent,  they  say,  that  he  has  done  well  for  a  beginner ; 
he  may  now  strike  across  the  mountains,  for  his  own  vil 
lages,  and  no  one  shall  look  for  his  trail.  If  he  has  found 


294  THE  DEERSLAYER 

a  scalp,  let  him  take  it  with  him  ;  the  Huron  braves  have 
hearts,  and  can  feel  for  a  young  warrior  who  does  n't  wish 
to  go  home  empty-handed.  If  he  is  nimble,  he  is  welcome 
to  lead  out  a  party  in  pursuit.  Hist,  hows'ever,  must  go 
back  to  the  Hurons  ;  when  she  left  them  in  the  night  she 
brought  away  with  her  the  inclinations  of  a  young  Huron, 
and  they  want  her  back  again,  that  the  poor  young  man 
may  find  them  where  he  last  saw  them !  The  Sarpent, 
they  say,  is  too  promising  a  young  warrior  not  to  find  as 
many  wives  as  he  wants,  but  this  one  he  cannot  have. 
The  next  message  is  to  you,  Judith.  They  say  the  Musk- 
rat,  as  they  call  your  father,  has  dove  to  the  bottom  of  the 
lake  ;  that  he  will  never  come  up  again,  and  that  his  young 
will  soon  be  in  want  of  wigwams,  if  not  of  food.  The 
Huron  huts,  they  think,  are  better  than  the  huts  of  York, 
—  they  wish  you  to  come  and  try  them.  Your  color 
is  white,  they  own,  but  they  think  young  women  who  've 
lived  so  long  in  the  woods  would  lose  their  way  in  the 
clearin's.  A  great  warrior  among  them  has  lately  lost  his 
wife,  and  he  would  be  glad  to  put  the  Wild  Rose  on  her 
bench  at  his  fireside.  As  for  the  Feeble-Mind,  she  will 
always  be  honored  and  taken  care  of  by  red  warriors. 
Your  father's  goods,  they  think,  ought  to  go  to  enrich  the 
tribe ;  but  your  own  property,  which  is  to  include  every 
thing  of  a  female  natur',  will  go,  like  that  of  all  wives, 
into  the  wigwam  of  the  husband." 

"And  do yott  bring  such  a  message  to  me?"  exclaimed 
Judith.  "  Am  I  a  girl  to  be  an  Indian's  slave  ?  " 

"  If  you  wish  my  honest  thoughts  on  this  p'int,  Judith,  I 
shall  answer  that  I  don't  think  you  '11  willingly  ever  become 
any  man's  slave,  redskin  or  white.  You  're  not  to  think 


THE  FURLOUGH  295 

hard,  hows'ever,  of  my  bringing  the  message,  as  near  as 
I  could,  in  the  very  words  in  which  it  was  given  to  me. 
Them  was  the  conditions  on  which  I  got  my  furlough, 
and  a  bargain  is  a  bargain,  though  it  is  made  with  a  vaga 
bond.  I  've  told  you  what  they  've  said,  but  I  've  not  yet 
told  you  what  I  think  you  ought,  one  and  all,  to  answer." 

"Aye  ;  let 's  hear  that,  Deerslayer,"  put  in  Hurry. 
"  My  cur'osity  is  up  on  that  consideration,  and  I  should 
like  right  well  to  hear  your  idees  of  the  reasonableness  of 
the  reply.  For  my  part,  though,  my  own  mind  is  pretty 
much  settled  on  the  p'int  of  my  own  answer,  which  shall 
be  made  known  as  soon  as  necessary." 

"And  so  is  mine,  Hurry,  on  all  the  different  heads,  and 
on  no  one  is  it  more  sartainly  settled  than  on  your'n.  If 
I  was  you,  I  should  say  —  '  Deerslayer,  tell  them  scamps 
they  don't  know  Harry  March !  He  is  human  ;  and  hav 
ing  a  white  skin  he  has  also  a  white  natur',  which  natur' 
won't  let  him  desart  females  of  his  own  race  and  gifts, 
in  their  greatest  need.  So  set  me  down  as  one  that  will 
refuse  to  come  into  your  treaty,  though  you  should  smoke 
a  hogshead  of  tobacco  over  it.' ' 

March  was  a  little  embarrassed  at  this  rebuke,  which 
was  uttered  with  sufficient  warmth  of  manner,  and  with 
a  point  that  left  no  doubt  of  the  meaning.  Had  Judith 
encouraged  him,  he  would  not  have  hesitated  about  re 
maining  to  defend  her  and  her  sister,  but  under  the  cir 
cumstances,  a  feeling  of  resentment  rather  urged  him  to 
abandon  them.  At  all  events,  there  was  not  a  sufficiency  of 
chivalry  in  Hurry  Harry  to  induce  him  to  hazard  the  safety 
of  his  own  person,  unless  he  could  see  a  direct  connection 
between  the  probable  consequences  and  his  own  interests. 


296  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"  Fair  words  make  long  friendships,  Master  Deer- 
slayer,"  he  said,  a  little  menacingly.  "You're  but  a 
stripling,  and  you  know,  by  exper'ence,  what  you  are  in 
the  hands  of  a  man.  As  you  're  not  me,  but  only  a  go- 
between,  sent  by  the  savages  to  us  Christians,  you  may 
tell  your  empl'yers  that  they  do  know  Harry  March,  which 
is  a  proof  of  their  sense  as  well  as  his.  He  's  human 
enough  to  follow  human  natur',  and  that  tells  him  to  see 
the  folly  of  one*  man's  fighting  a  whole  tribe.  If  females 
desart  him,  they  must  expect  to  be  desarted  by  him, 
whether  they  're  of  his  own  gifts  or  another  man's  gifts. 
Should  Judith  see  fit  to  change  her  mind,  she  's  welcome 
to  my  company  to  the  river,  and  Hetty  with  her ;  but 
should  n't  she  come  to  this  conclusion,  I  start  as  soon  as 
I  think  the  enemy's  scouts  are  beginning  to  nestle  them 
selves  in  among  the  brush  and  leaves  for  the  night." 

"  Judith  will  not  change  her  mind,  and  she  does  not 
ask  your  company,  Master  March,"  returned  the  girl,  with 
spirit. 

''That  p'int 's  settled,  then,"  resumed  Deerslayer,  un 
moved  by  the  other's  warmth.  "  Hurry  Harry  must  act 
for  himself,  and  do  that  which  will  be  most  likely  to  suit 
his  own  fancy.  The  course  he  means  to  take  will  give 
him  an  easy  race,  if  it  don't  give  him  an  easy  conscience. 
Next  comes  the  question  with  Hist  —  what  say  you,  gal? 
—  will  you  go  back  to  the  Mingos  and  take  a  Huron 
husband  ?  " 

"  Why  you  talk  so  to  Hist  ?  "  demanded  the  girl,  half 
offended.  "You  t'ink  a  redskin  girl  made  like  captain's 
lady,  to  laugh  and  joke  with  any  officer  that  come  ?  " 

"  What  I  think,  Hist,  is  neither  here  nor  there,  in  this 


THE  FURLOUGH  297 

matter.  I  must  carry  back  your  answer,  and  in  order  to 
do  so  it  is  necessary  that  you  should  send  it.  A  faithful 
messenger  gives  his  arr'nd  word  for  word." 

Hist  no  longer  hesitated  to  speak  her  mind  fully. 

"  Tell  the  Hurons,  Deerslayer,"  she  said,  rising  from 
the  bench  and  delivering  her  intentions  in  the  tongue  of 
her  own  people,  "  that  they  are  as  ignorant  as  moles  ; 
they  don't  know  the  wolf  from  the  dog.  Among  my 
people,  the  rose  dies  on  the  stem  where  it  budded  ;  the 
tears  of  the  child  fall  on  the  graves  of  its  parents ;  the 
corn  grows  where  the  seed  has  been  planted.  The  Dela 
ware  girls  are  not  messengers,  to  be  sent  like  belts  of 
wampum  from  tribe  to  tribe.  They  are  honeysuckles,  that 
are  sweetest  in  their  own  woods  ;  their  own  young  men 
carry  them  away  in  their  bosoms,  because  they  are  fragrant ; 
they  are  sweetest  when  plucked  from  their  native  stems. 
Even  the  robin  and  the  martin  come  back,  year  after  year, 
to  their  old  nests  ;  shall  a  woman  be  less  true-hearted  than 
a  bird  ?  Set  the  pine  in  the  clay,  and  it  will  turn  yellow  ; 
the  willow  will  not  flourish  on  the  hill ;  the  tamarack  is 
healthiest  in  the  swamp  ;  the  tribes  of  the  sea  love  best  to 
hear  the  winds  that  blow  over  the  salt  water.  As  for  a 
Huron  youth,  what  is  he  to  a  maiden  of  the  Delawares  ? 
He  may  be  fleet,  but  her  eyes  do  not  follow  him  in  the 
race  ;  they  look  back  towards  the  lodges  of  her  people. 
He  may  sing  a  sweet  song  for  the  girls  of  Canada,  but 
there  is  no  music  for  Wah  but  in  the  tongue  she  has  lis 
tened  to  from  childhood.  Were  the  Huron  born  of  the 
people  that  once  roamed  the  shores  of  the  salt  lake,  it 
would  be  in  vain,  unless  he  were  of  the  family  of  Uncas. 
The  young  pine  will  rise  to  be  as  high  as  any  of  its  fathers. 


298  THE  DEERSLAYER 

Wah-ta-Wah  has  but  one  heart,  and  it  can  love  but  one 
husband." 

Deerslayer  listened  to  this  characteristic  message  with 
undisguised  delight. 

"  That 's  worth  all  the  wampum  in  the  woods  !  "  he  ex 
claimed.  "  Give  me  a  woman  for  raal  eloquence,  if  they  '11 
only  make  up  their  minds  to  speak  what  they  feel.  And 
now,  Judith,  having  got  the  answer  of  a  redskin  girl,  it  is 
fit  I  should  get  that  of  a  paleface,  if,  indeed,  a  counte 
nance  that  is  as  blooming  as  your'n  can  in  any  wise  so  be 
tarmed.  You  are  well  named  the  Wild  Rose,  and  so  far 
as  color  goes  Hetty  ought  to  be  called  the  Honeysuckle." 

"  It  is  too  soon,"  returned  Judith,  "  to  ask  my  answer ; 
the  Great  Serpent  has  not  yet  spoken." 

"  The  Sarpent  ?  Lord  ;  I  could  carry  back  his  speech 
without  hearing  a  word  of  it !  I  did  n't  think  of  putting 
the  question  to  him  at  all,  I  will  allow  ;  though  't  would 
be  hardly  right  either,  seeing  that  truth  is  truth,  and  I  'm 
bound  to  tell  these  Mingos  the  fact,  and  nothing  else.  So, 
Chingachgook,  let  us  hear  your  mind  on  this  matter  :  are 
you  inclined  to  strike  across  the  hills  towards  your 
village,  to  give  up  Hist  to  a  Huron,  and  to  tell  the  chiefs 
at  home,  that  if  they  're  actyve  and  successful  they  may 
possibly  get  on  the  end  of  the  Iroquois  trail  some  two 
or  three  days  a'ter  the  inimy  has  got  off  of.  it  ?  " 

Like  his  betrothed,  the  young  chief  arose,  that  his 
answer  might  be  given  with  due  distinctness  and  dignity. 
Hist  had  spoken  with  her  hands  crossed  upon  her  bosom, 
as  if  to  suppress  the  emotions  within  ;  but  the  warrior 
stretched  an  arm  before  him,  with  a  calm  energy  that 
aided  in  giving  emphasis  to  his  expressions. 


THE  FURLOUGH  299 

"  Wampum  should  be  sent  for  wampum,"  he  said  ;  "  a  1 
message  must  be  answered  by  a  message.  Hear  what  the 
Great  Serpent  of  the  Delawares  has  to  say  to  the  pre 
tended  wolves  from  the  great  lakes  that  are  howling 
through  our  woods.  They  are  no  wolves  —  they  are  dogs 
that  have  come  to  get  their  tails  and  ears  cropped  by  the 
hands  of  the  Delawares.  They  are  good  at  stealing  young 
women  :  bad  at  keeping  them.  Chingachgook  takes  his 
own  where  he  finds  it ;  he  asks  leave  of  no  cur  from  the 
Canadas.  If  he  has  a  tender  feeling  in  his  heart,  it  is  no 
business  of  the  Hurons.  He  tells  it  to  her  who  most  likes 
to  know  it ;  he  will  not  bellow  it  in  the  forest  for  the 
ears  of  those  that  only  understand  yells  of  terror.  What 
passes  in  his  lodge  is  not  for  the  chiefs  of  his  own  people 
to  know  ;  still  less  for  Mingo  rogues  " 

"  Call  'em  vagabonds,  Sarpent,"  interrupted  Deerslayer, 
unable  to  restrain  his  delight,  —  -"yes,  just  call  'em  up-and- 
down  vagabonds,  which  is  a  word  easily  intarpreted,  and  the 
most  hateful  to  all  their  ears,  it 's  so  true.  Never  fear  me  ; 
I  '11  give  'em  your  message,  syllable  for  syllable,  sneer  for 
sneer,  idee  for  idee,  scorn  for  scorn,  and  they  desarve  no 
better  at  your  hands.  Only  call  'em  vagabonds,  once  or 
twice,  and  that  will  set  the  sap  mounting  in  'em  from 
their  lowest  roots  to  the  uppermost  branches." 

"  Still  less  for  Mingo  vagabonds  !  "  resumed  Chingach 
gook,  quite  willingly  complying  with  his  friend's  request. 
"  Tell  the  Huron  dogs  to  howl  louder,  if  they  wish  a  Del 
aware  to  find  them  in  the  woods,  where  they  burrow  like 
foxes,  instead  of  hunting  like  warriors.  When  they  had  a 
Delaware  maiden  in  their  camp,  there  was  a  reason  for 
hunting  them  up  ;  now  they  will  be  forgotten,  unless  they 


300  THE  DEERSLAYER 

make  a  noise.  Chingachgook  don't  like  the  trouble  of 
going  to  his  villages  for  more  warriors  ;  he  can  strike  their 
run-away  trail ;  unless  they  hide  it  under  ground  he  will 
follow  it  to  Canada,  alone.  He  will  keep  Wah-ta-Wah  with 
him  to  cook  his  game  ;  they  two  will  be  Delawares  enough 
to  scare  all  the  Hurons  back  to  their  own  country." 

"  That 's  a  grand  despatch,  as  the  officers  call  them 
things!"  cried  Deerslayer ;  ''twill  set  all  the  Huron 
blood  in  motion  ;  most  particularly  that  part  where  he  tells 
'em  Hist,  too,  will  keep  on  their  heels,  till  they  're  fairly 
driven  out  of  the  country.  Now,  Hetty,  if  you  have  any 
thing  to  say,  I  '11  carry  it  to  the  Hurons  as  faithfully  as 
if  it  was  spoken  by  a  schoolmaster  or  a  missionary." 

The  girl  hesitated  a  moment,  and  then  she  answered 
earnestly,  in  her  own  gentle,  soft  tones. 

"  The  Hurons  can't  understand  the  difference  between 
white  people  and  themselves,"  she  said,  "  or  they  would  n't 
ask  Judith  and  me  to  go  and  live  in  their  villages.  God 
has  given  one  country  to  the  red-men  and  another  to  us. 
He  meant  us  to  live  apart.  Then  mother  always  said  that 
we  should  never  dwell  with  any  but  Christians,  if  possible, 
and  that  is  a  reason  why  we  can't  go.  This  lake  is  ours, 
and  we  won't  leave  it.  Father's  and  mother's  graves  are 
in  it,  and  even  the  worst  Indians  love  to  stay  near  the 
graves  of  their  fathers.  I  will  come  and  see  them  again, 
if  they  wish  me  to,  and  read  more  out  of  the  Bible  to 
them,  but  I  can't  quit  father's  and  mother's  graves." 

"  That  will  do  —  that  will  do,  Hetty,  just  as  well  as  if 
you  sent  them  a  message  twice  as  long,"  interrupted  the 
hunter.  "  I  '11  te'll  'em  all  you  've  said,  and  all  you  mean, 
and  I  '11  answer  for  it  that  they  '11  be  easily  satisfied.  Now, 


THE  FURLOUGH  301 

Judith,  your  turn  comes  next,  and  then  this  part  of  my 
arr'nd  will  be  tarminated  for  the  night." 

Judith  manifested  a  reluctance  to  give  her  reply  that  ' 
had  awakened  a  little  curiosity  in  the  messenger.  Judging 
from  her  known  spirit,  he  had  never  supposed  the  girl 
would  be  less  true  to  her  feelings  and  principles  than  Hist 
or  Hetty  ;  and  yet  there  was  a  visible  wavering  of  purpose 
that  rendered  him  slightly  uneasy.  Even  now,  when  di 
rectly  required  to  speak,  she  seemed  to  hesitate ;  nor  did 
she  open  her  lips  until  the  profound  silence  told  her  how 
anxiously  her  words  were  expected.  Then,  indeed,  she 
spoke,  but  it  was  doubtingly  and  with  reluctance.  / 

"Tell  me,  first  —  tell  us,  first,  Deerslayer,  "^she  com 
menced,  repeating  the  words  merely  to  change  the  empha 
sis,  "  what  effect  will  our  answers  have  on  your  fate  ?  If 
you  are  to  be  the  sacrifice  of  our  spirit,  it  would  have  been 
better  had  we  all  been  more  wary  as  to  the  language  we 
use.  What,  then,  are  likely  to  be  the  consequences  to 
yourself  ?  " 

"  Lord,  Judith,  you  might  as  well  ask  me  which  way  the 
wind  will  blow  next  week,  or  what  will  be  the  age  of  the 
next  deer  that  will  be  shot !  I  can  only  say  that  their  faces 
look  a  little  dark  upon  me,  but  it  does  n't  thunder  every 
time  a  black  cloud  rises,  nor  does  every  puff  of  wind  blow 
up  rain.  That 's  a  question,  therefore,  much  more  easily 
put  than  answered." 

"  My  answer  shall  be  given,  Deerslayer,  after  you  and 
I  have  talked  together  alone,  when  the  others  have  laid 
themselves  down  for  the  night,"  said  Judith,  rising. 

The  meeting  now  broke  up,  Hurry  announcing  his 
resolution  to  leave  them  speedily.  Instead  of  making  his 


302  THE  DEERSLAYER 

adieus  frankly,  and  in  a  generous  spirit,  the  little  he 
thought  it  necessary  to  say  was  uttered  sullenly  and  in 
coldness.  Resentment  at  what  he  considered  Judith's  ob 
stinacy  was  blended  with  mortification  at  the  career  he  had 
run  since  reaching  the  lake  ;  and,  as  is  usual  with  the 
vulgar  and  narrow-minded,  he  was  more  disposed  to 
reproach  others  with  his  failures  than  to  censure  himself. 
Judith  gave  him  her  hand,  but  it  was  quite  as  much  in 
gladness  as  with  regret,  while  the  two  Delawares  were  not 
sorry  to  find  he  was  leaving  them.  Of  the  whole  party, 
Hetty  alone  betrayed  any  real  feeling.  Bashfulness  kept 
her  aloof,  so  that  Hurry  entered  the  canoe,  where  Deer- 
slayer  was  already  waiting  for  him,  before  she  ventured 
near  enough  to  be  observed.  Then,  indeed,  the  girl  came 
into  the  ark,  and  approached  its  end  just  as  the  little  bark 
was  turning  from  it. 

"  Good-by,  Hurry,"   —  she  called  out  in  her  sweet  voice, 

"•good-by,  dear  Hurry.  Take  care  of  yourself  in  the 
woods,  and  don't  stop  once  till  you  reach  the  garrison.  The 
leaves  on  the  trees  are  scarcely  plentier  than  the  Hurons 
round  the  lake,  and  they  'd  not  treat  a  strong  man  like 
you  as  kindly  as  they  treat  me." 

Hurry  received  so  little  sympathy  at  his  departure,  that 
the  gentle  tones  of  Hetty,  as  she  thus  called  after  him, 
sounded  soothingly.  He  checked  the  canoe,  and  with  one 
sweep  of  his  powerful  arm  brought  it  back  to  the  side  of 
the  ark.  This  was  more  than  Hetty,  whose  courage  had 
risen  with  the  departure  of  her  hero,  expected,  and  she 
now  shrank  timidly  back  at  his  unexpected  return. 

"  You  're  a  good  gal,  Hetty,  and  I  can't  quit  you  with 
out  shaking  hands,"  said  March,  kindly.  ''Judith,  a'ter 


THE  FURLOUGH  303 

all,  is  n't  worth  as  much  as  you,  though  she  may  be  a  trifle 
better  looking.  Well,  if  we  ever  meet  again,  Hetty,  you  'd 
find  a  fri'nd  in  me,  let  your  sister  do  what  she  may." 

In  another  minute  the  two  adventurers  were  a  hundred 
feet  from  the  ark,  and  half  a  dozen  had  not  elapsed  before 
they  were  completely  lost  to  view.  Hetty  sighed  deeply, 
and  rejoined  her  sister  and  Hist. 

For  some  time  Deerslayer  and  his  companion  paddled 
ahead  in  silence.  It  had  been  determined  to  land  Hurry 
at  the  precise  point  where  he  is  represented,  in  the  com 
mencement  of  our  tale,  as  having  embarked ;  not  only  as 
a  place  little  likely  to  be  watched  by  the  Hurons,  but 
because  he  was  sufficiently  familiar  with  the  signs  of  the 
woods,  at  that  spot,  to  thread  his  way  through  them  in  the 
dark.  Thither,  then,  the  light  craft  proceeded,  and  in  less 
than  a  quarter  of  an  hour  was  within  the  shadows  of  the 
shore. 

"  You  will  do  well  to  persuade  the  officers  at  the  garri 
son  to  lead  out  a  party  agin  these  vagabonds  as  soon  as 
you  get  in,  Hurry,"  Deerslayer  commenced  ;  "  and  you  '11 
do  better  if  you  volunteer  to  guide  it  up  yourself.  You 
know  the  paths,  and  the  shape  of  the  lake,  and  the  natur' 
of  the  land,  and  can  do  it  better  than  a  common,  gin'raliz- 
ing  scout.  Strike  at  the  Huron  camp  first,  and  follow 
the  signs  that  will  then  show  themselves.  A  few  looks  at 
the  hut  and  the  ark  will  satisfy  you  as  to  the  state  of  the 
Delaware  and  the  women  ;  and,  at  any  rate,  there  '11  be  a 
fine  opportunity  to  fall  on  the  Mingo  trail,  and  to  make 
a  mark  on  the  memories  of  the  blackguards  that  they  '11 
be  apt  to  carry  with  'em  a  long  time.  It  won't  be  likely 
to  make  much  difference  with  me,  since  that  matter  will 


304  THE  DEERSLAYER 

be  determined  afore  to-morrow's  sun  has  set ;  but  it  may 
make  a  great  change  in  Judith  and  Hetty's  hopes  and 
prospects  ! " 

"And  as  for  yourself,  Nathaniel,"  Hurry  inquired  with 
more  interest  than  he  was  accustomed  to  betray  in  the 
welfare  of  others,  —  "  and  as  for  yourself,  what  do  you 
think  is  likely  to  turn  up  ?  " 

"  The  Lord  in  his  wisdom  only  can  tell,  Henry  March  ! 
The  clouds  look  black  and  threatening,  and  I  keep  my 
mind  in  a  state  to  meet  the  worst.  Vengeful  feelin's  are 
uppermost  in  the  hearts  of  the  Mingos,  and  any  little 
disapp'intment  about  the  plunder,  or  the  prisoners,  or 
Hist,  may  make  the  torments  sartain.  The  Lord,  in  his 
wisdom,  can  only  detarmine  my  fate,  oryour'n  !  " 

"  This  is  a  black  business,  and  ought  to  be  put  a  stop  to," 
answered  Hurry.  "  I  heartily  wish  old  Hutter  and  I  had 
scalped  every  creatur'  in  their  camp,  the  night  we  first 
landed  with  that  capital  object !  Had  you  not  held  back, 
Deerslayer,  it  might  have  been  done  ;  then  you  would  n't 
have  found  yourself,  at  the  last  moment,  in  the  desperate 
condition  you  mention." 

'  'T  would  have  been  better  had  you  said  you  wished 
you  had  never  attempted  to  do  what  it  little  becomes  any 
white  man's  gifts  to  undertake  ;  in  which  case,  not  only 
might  we  have  kept  from  coming  to  blows,  but  Thomas 
Hutter  would  now  have  been  living,  and  the  hearts  of  the 
savages  would  be  less  given  to  vengeance." 

This  was  so  obvious  to  Hurry  himself,  at  the  moment, 
that  he  dashed  his  paddle  into  the  water,  and  began  to  urge 
the  canoe  towards  the  shore,  as  if  bent  only  on  running 
away  from  his  own  lively  remorse.  In  a  minute  or  two 


THE  FURLOUGH  305 

the  bows  of  the  boat  grated  lightly  on  the  beach.  To  land, 
shoulder  his  pack  and  rifle,  and  to  get  ready  for  his  march, 
occupied  Hurry  but  an  instant,  and  with  a  growling  adieu, 
he  had  already  commenced  his  march,  when  a  sudden 
twinge  of  feeling  brought  him  back  to  the  other's  side. 

"  You  cannot  mean  to  give  yourself  up  agin  to  them 
murdering  savages,  Deerslayer !  "  he  said,  quite  as  much 
in  angry  remonstrance  as  with  generous  feeling.  "  'T  would 
be  the  act  of  a  madman  or  a  fool !  " 

"  There  's  them  that  thinks  it  madness  to  keep  their 
words,  and  there  's  them  that  don't,  Hurry  Harry.  You 
may  be  one  of  the  first,  but  I  'm  one  of  the  last.  No  red 
skin  breathing  shall  have  it  in  his  power  to  say  that  a 
Mingo  minds  his  word  more  than  a  man  of  white  blood 
and  white  gifts',  in  anything  that  consarns  me.  I  'm  out 
on  a  furlough,  and  if  I  've  strength  and  reason,  I  '11  go 
in  on  a  furlough  afore  noon  to-morrow  !  " 

"What's  an  Injin,  or  a  word  passed,  or  a  furlough 
taken  from  creatur's  like  them,  that  have  neither  souls 
nor  names  ?  ' ' 

"  If  they  've  got  neither  souls  nor  names,  you  and  I  have 
both,  Harry  March,  and  one  is  accountable  for  the  other. 
This  furlough  is  not,  as  you  seem  to  think,  a  matter 
altogether  atween  me  and  the  Mingos,  seeing  it  is  a  solemn 
bargain  made  atween  me  and  God.  He  who  thinks  that  he 
can  say  what  he  pleases,  in  his  distress,  and  that  't  will  all 
pass  for  nothing,  because  'tis  uttered  in  the  forest,  and 
into  red-men's  ears,  knows  little  of  his  situation,  and  hopes, 
and  wants.  The  words  are  said  to  the  ears  of  the  Almighty. 
The  air  is  his  breath,  and  the  light  of  the  sun  is  little  more 
than  a  glance  of  his  eye.  Farewell,  Harry ;  we  may  not 


306  THE  DEERSLAYER 

meet  agin  ;  but  I  would  never  wish  you  to  treat  a  furlough, 
or  any  other  solemn  thing  that  your  Christian  God  has 
been  called  on  to  witness,  as  a  duty  so  light  that  it  may 
be  forgotten  according  to  the  wants  of  the  body,  or  even 
according  to  the  cravings  of  the  spirit." 

March  was  now  glad  again  to  escape.  Deerslayer  stood 
calmly  on  the  shore,  listening  to  the  reckless  tread  with 
which  Hurry  betrayed  his  progress  through  the  bushes, 
shook  his  head  in  dissatisfaction  at  the  want  of  caution, 
and  then  stepped  quietly  into  his  canoe.  Before  he 
dropped  the  paddle  again  into  the  water,  the  young  man 
gazed  about  him  at  the  scene  presented  by  the  starlit  night. 
This  was  the  spot  where  not  four  days  ago  he  had  first 
laid  his  eyes  on  the  beautiful  sheet  of  water  on  which  he 
floated.  If  it  was  then  glorious  in  the  bright  light  of  sum 
mer's  noontide,  it  was  now  sad  and  melancholy  under  the 
shadows  of  night.  The  mountains  rose  around  it,  like 
black  barriers  to  exclude  the  outer  world  ;  and  the  gleams 
of  pale  light  that  rested  on  the  broader  parts  of  the  basin 
were  no  bad  symbols  of  the  faintness  of  the  hopes  that 
were  so  dimly  visible  in  his  own  future.  Sighing  heavily, 
he  pushed  the  canoe  from  the  land,  and  took  his  way  back 
with  steady  diligence  towards  the  ark  and  the  castle. 

CHAPTER   II 

Judith  was  waiting  the  return  of  Deerslayer,  on  the 
platform,  with  stifled  impatience,  when  the  latter  reached 
the  ark.  As  soon  as  she  got  a  glimpse  of  the  canoe,  she 
ceased  her  hurried  walk  up  and  down  the  platform,  and 
stood  ready  to  receive  the  young  man,  helping  him  to  fasten 


THE  FURLOUGH  307 

the  canoe.  When  this  was  done  she  led  him  into  the  cabin 
of  the  ark,  where  a  lamp  was  burning.  All  padlocks  had 
been  removed  from  the  chest,  and  it  only  remained  for 
Deerslayer  to  raise  the  heavy  lid.  This  Judith  desired  him 
to  do,  as  she  was  going  to  make  a  search  of  the  contents, 
even  to  the  bottom,  in  the  hope  of  finding  out  more  of  the 
history  of  Thomas  Hutter  and  her  mother.  This  was  the 
first  intimation  that  Deerslayer  had  had  that  Hutter  was 
not  her  father,  and  he  listened  with  close  attention  to  the 
account  of  the  dying  moments  of  the  old  man. 

It  was  even  as  Judith  suspected.  When  the  articles  that 
had  been  previously  examined  had  been  laid  aside,  they 
found  a  small  trunk  nearly  filled  with  papers.  The  hawk 
does  not  pounce  upon  the  chicken  with  a  more  sudden 
swoop  than  Judith  sprang  forward  to  seize  this  mine  of 
hitherto  concealed  knowledge,  glancing  over  page  after 
page  of  letters  until  she  had  read  one  hundred  or  more. 
At  first  it  was  evident  to  Deerslayer  that  the  girl  was  much 
gratified  with  the. letters,  but  as  she  went  on,  her  counte 
nance  grew  more  and  more  sober,  and  at  last  she  burst 
into  tears,  although  she  still  kept  on  reading  until  she 
had  reached  the  end.  Then,  leaning  wearily  back  in  her 
seat,  she  desired  her  companion  to  finish  the  examination 
of  the  other  articles  in  the  chest,  as  it  might  yet  contain 
something  of  importance. 

"I  '11  do  it,  Judith  ;  I  '11  do  it,"  returned  the  patient 
Deerslayer ;  "  but  if  there  's  many  more  letters  to  read, 
we  shall  see  the  sun  agin  afore  you  've  got  through  with 
the  reading  of  them !  Two  good  hours  have  you  been 
looking  at  them  bits  of  papers  !  " 

"  They  tell  me  of  my  parents,  Deerslayer,  and  have 


a 


308  THE  DEERSLAYER 

settled  my  plans  for  life.  A  girl  may  be  excused,  who 
reads  about  her  own  father  and  mother,  and  that  too  for 
the  first  time  in  her  life !  I  am  sorry  to  have  kept  you 
waiting." 

"  Never  mind  me,  gal ;  never  mind  me.  It  matters 
little  whether  I  sleep  or  watch ;  but  though  you  be 
pleasant  to  look  at,  and  are  so  handsome,  Judith,  it  is 
not  altogether  agreeable  to  sit  so  long  to  behold  you  shed 
ding  tears.  I  know  that  tears  don't  kill,  and  that  some 
people  are  better  for  shedding  a  few  now  and  then,  espe 
cially  women  ;  but  I  'd  rather  see  you  smile  any  time, 
Judith,  than  see  you  weep." 

This  gallant  speech  was  rewarded  with  a  sweet,  though 
a  melancholy,  smile ;  and  then  the  girl  again  desired  her 
companion  to  finish  the  examination  of  the  chest.  The 
search  necessarily  continued  some  time,  during  which 
Judith  collected  her  thoughts  and  related  to  her  companion 
a  brief  summary  of  the  information,  pitifully  scant  as  it 
was,  which  she  had  derived  from  the  letters.  All  signatures 
and  names  had  been  carefully  cut  out  and  erased,  but  aside 
from  this  the  girl  had  been  able  to  gain  a  fairly  connected 
history  of  her  mother's  life.  A  young  girl  coming  to 
America,  she  had  been  loved  and  betrayed  by  an  officer 
from  Europe,  who  had  finally  deserted  her,  leaving  their 
infant  daughters,  Judith  and  Hetty,  with  her.  Of  this 
episode  Judith  could  learn  nothing  more  from  the  letters, 
but  the  next  bundle  had  proved  to  be  the  correspondence 
between  Thomas  Hutter  and  her  mother.  What  had 
brought  the  two  together  she  could  not  tell,  but  Hutter's 
communications,  coarse  and  illiterate  though  they  were, 
manifested  a  desire  to  obtain  the  hand  of  a  woman  of 


THE  FURLOUGH  309 

singular  personal  attractions,  and  whose  great  error  he 
was  willing  to  overlook,  for  the  advantage  of  possessing 
one  who  was  in  every  way  his  superior. 

Nothing  else  was  found  among  the  papers  that  could 
lead  to  a  discovery  of  the  name  or  place  of  residence  of  the 
wife  of  Hutter  ;  but  an  old  newspaper  came  to  light  among 
the  loose  fragments,  which  contained  a  proclamation  offer 
ing  a  reward  for  the  apprehension  of  certain  freebooters, 
by  name,  among  which  was  that  of  Thomas  Hovey.  The 
attention  of  the  girl  was  drawn  to  the  proclamation,  and 
to  this  particular  name,  by  the  circumstance  that  black 
lines  had  been  drawn  under  both  in  ink.  This,  and  many 
hints  that  had  come  to  the  girl's  ears  during  his  life-time, 
convinced  her  that  Thomas  Hutter  and  Thomas  Hovey 
were  the  same,  and  that  he  had  hidden  himself  in  the 
wilderness  to  avoid  capture  and  conviction  as  a  pirate. 
Judith's  recollection  of  her  mother's  manners,  conversation, 
and  sufferings  filled  up  many  a  gap  in  the  historical  facts 
she  had  now  discovered,  and  made  her  story  more  vivid 
and  sympathetic. 

"And  so,"  she  concluded  sadly,  "I  am  Judith,  and 
Judith  only,  and  know  not  what  else  to  call  myself.  I  had 
a  mother,  it  is  true  ;  but  of  her  name,  even,  I  am  ignorant ; 
and  as  for  my  father,  it  is  better,  perhaps,  that  I  should 
never  know  who  he  was,  lest  I  speak  too  bitterly  of  him  !  " 

"Judith,"  said  Deerslayer,  taking  her  hand  kindly,  and 
with  a  manly  sincerity  that  went  directly  to  the  girl's  heart, 
'  't  is  better  to  say  no  more  to-night.  Sleep  on  what  you  've 
seen  and  felt ;  in  the  morning,  things  that  now  look  gloomy 
may  look  more  cheerful.  It  is  time  to  get  a  little  rest,  for 
to-morrow  is  like  to  prove  a  trying  day  to  all  of  us." 


310  THE  DEERSLAYER 

Deerslayer  arose  as  he  spoke,  and  Judith  followed  his 
example.  The  chest  was  closed  and  secured,  and  they 
parted  in  silence ;  she  to  take  her  place  by  the  side  of 
Hist  and  Hetty,  and  he  to  seek  a  blanket  on  the  floor 
of  the  cabin  he  was  in. 

CHAPTER  III 

Hist  and  Hetty  arose  with  the  return  of  light,  leaving 
Judith  still  buried  in  sleep.  It  took  but  a  minute  for  the 
first  to  complete  her  toilet.  Her  long  coal-black  hair  was 
soon  adjusted  in  a  simple  knot,  the  calico  dress  belted  tight 
to  her  slender  waist,  and  her  little  feet  concealed  in  their 
gaudily  ornamented  moccasins.  When  attired,  she  left  her 
companion  employed  in  household  affairs,  and  went  herself 
on  the  platform,  to  breathe  the  pure  air  of  the  morning. 
Here  she  found  Chingachgook  studying  the  shores  of  the 
lake,  the  mountains,  and  the  heavens. 

When  the  first  greetings  had  been  exchanged,  the  young 
chief  spoke. 

"  When  the  sun  is  thus,"  he  said,  pointing  to  the  zenith, 
"  the  great  hunter  of  our  tribe  will  go  back  to  the  Hurons 
to  be  treated  like  a  bear,  that  they  roast  and  skin  even  on 
full  stomachs." 

"The  Great  Spirit  may  soften  their  hearts,  and  not 
suffer  them  to  be  so  bloody-minded.  I  have  lived  among 
the  Hurons,  and  know  them.  They  have  hearts,  and  will 
not  forget  their  own  children,  should  they  fall  into  the 
hands  of  the  Delawares." 

"  A  wolf  is  forever  howling ;  a  hog  will  always  eat. 
They  have  lost  warriors  ;  even  their  women  will  call  out 
for  vengeance.  The  paleface  has  the  eyes  of  an  eagle,  and 


THE  FURLOUGH  311 

can  see  into  a  Mingo's  heart ;  he  looks  for  no  mercy. 
There  is  a  cloud  over  his  spirit,  though  it  is  not  before 
his  face." 

A  long,  thoughtful  pause  succeeded. 

"  What  will  the  son  of  Uncas  do  ?  "  the  girl  at  length 
timidly  asked.  "  He  is  a  chief,  and  is  already  celebrated 
in  council,  though  so  young ;  what  does  his  heart  tell 
him  is  wisest  ?  does  the  head,  too,  speak  the  same  words 
as  the  heart  ?  " 

"  What  does  Wah-ta-Wah  say,  at  a  moment  when  my 
dearest  friend  is  in  danger  ?  The  smallest  birds  sing  the 
sweetest ;  it  is  always  pleasant  to  hearken  to  their  songs. 
I  wish  I  could  hear  the  Wren  of  the  Woods  in  my  diffi 
culty  ;  its  note  would  reach  deeper  than  the  ear." 

"  Wah-ta-Wah  says  that  neither  she  nor  the  Great  Ser 
pent  could  ever  laugh  again,  or  ever  sleep  without  dream 
ing  of  the  Hurons,  should  the  Deerslayer  die  under  a 
Mingo  tomahawk,  and  they  do  nothing  to  save  him.  She 
would  rather  go  back,  and  start  on  her  long  path  alone, 
than  let  such  a  dark  cloud  pass  before  her  happiness." 

"  Good !  The  husband  and  the  wife  will  have  but  one 
heart ;  they  will  see  with  the  same  eyes,  and  feel  with  the 
same  feelings." 

Just  at  this  instant  Deerslayer  came  out  of  the  cabin  of 
the  ark,  and  stepped  upon  the  platform.  His  first  look  was 
at  the  cloudless  heavens,  then  his  rapid  glance  took  in  the 
entire  panorama  of  land  and  water,  when  he  had  leisure  for 
a  friendly  nod  at  his  friends,  and  a  cheerful  smile  for  Hist. 

"Well,"  he  said,  in  his  usual  composed  manner,  and 
pleasant  voice  ;  "he  that  sees  the  sun  set  in  the  west,  and 
wakes  'arly  enough  in  the  morning,  will  be  sartain  to  find 


312  THE  DEERSLAYER 

him  coming  back  agin  in  the  east,  like  a  buck  that  is 
hunted  round  his  ha'nts." 

"Aye,"  said  Chingachgook,  "but  when  the  sun  is  in 
the  top  of  that  pine  to-morrow  where  will  my  brother 
Deerslayer  be  ?  " 

The  hunter  started,  and  looked  intently  at  his  friend. 
Then  he  signed  for  him  to  follow,  and  led  the  way  into 
the  ark. 

'  'Twas  a  little  onreasonable  in  you,  Sarpent,"  he  said, 
"  to  bring  up  such  a  subject  afore  Hist,  for  you  know  the 
question  is  easier  put  than  answered.  No  mortal  can  say 
where  he  will  be  when  the  sun  rises  to-morrow.  I  will  ask 
you  the  same  question,  Sarpent,  and  should  like  to  hear 
what  answer  you  can  give." 

"  Chingachgook  will  be  with  his  friend,  Deerslayer;  if 
he  be  in  the  land  of  spirits,  the  Great  Serpent  will  crawl 
at  his  side ;  if  beneath  yonder  sun,  its  warmth  and  light 
shall  fall  on  both." 

"  I  understand  you,  Delaware,"  returned  the  other, 
touched  with  the  simple  self-devotion  of  his  friend.  "  Such 
language  is  as  plain  in  one  tongue  as  in  another  ;  it  comes 
from  the  heart,  and  goes  to  the  heart,  too.  'T  is  well  to 
think  so,  and  it  may  be  well  to  say  so,  for  that  matter,  but 
it  would  not  be  well  to  do  so,  Sarpent.  You  are  no  longer 
alone  in  life ;  for,  though  you  have  the  lodges  to  change, 
and  other  ceremonies  to  go  through,  afore  Hist  becomes 
your  lawful  wife,  yet  are  you  as  good  as  married,  in  all  that 
bears  on  the  feelin's,  and  joy,  and  misery.  No,  no  —  Hist 
must  not  be  desarted,  because  a  cloud  is  passing  atween 
you  and  me,  a  little  onexpectedly,  and  a  little  darker  than 
we  may  have  looked  for." 


THE  FURLOUGH  313 

"  Hist  is  a  daughter  of  the  Mohicans ;  she  knows  how 
to  obey  her  husband.  Where  he  goes  she  will  follow.  Both 
will  be  with  the  Great  Hunter  of  the  Delawares,  when  the 
sun  shall  be  in  the  pine  to-morrow." 

"  The  Lord  bless  and  protect  you  !  Chief,  this  is  down 
right  madness.  Can  either  or  both  of  you  alter  a  Mingo 
natur'  ?  Will  your  grand  looks,  or  Hist's  tears  and  beauty, 
change  a  wolf  into  a  squirrel,  or  make  a  catamount  as 
innocent  as  a  faan  ?  No,  Sarpent,  you  will  think  better  of 
this  matter,  and  leave  me  in  the  hands  of  God.  A'ter 
all,  it 's  by  no  means  sartain  that  the  scamps  design  the 
torments.  No  one  knows  to  a  sartainty  what  will  happen  ; 
and  young  creatur's,  like  Hist,  are  n't  to  be  risked  on  un- 
sartainties.  Now,  if  you  was  single,  or  as  good  as  single, 
Delaware,  I  should  expect  you  to  be  actyve  and  stirring 
about  the  camp  of  the  vagabonds,  from  sunrise  to  sunset, 
sarcumventing,  and  contriving,  as  restless  as  a  hound  off 
the  scent,  and  doing  all  manner  of  things  to  help  me,  and 
to  distract  the  inimy ;  but  two  are  often  feebler  than  one, 
and  we  must  take  things  as  they  are,  and  not  as  we  want 
'em  to  be." 

"  Listen,  Deerslayer,"  returned  the  Indian,  with  an 
emphasis  so  decided  as  to  show  how  much  he  was  in 
earnest.  "  If  Chingachgook  was  in  the  hands  of  the 
Hurons,  what  would  my  paleface  brother  do  ?  Sneak  off 
to  the  Delaware  villages,  and  say  to  the  chiefs,  and  old 
men,  and  young  warriors,  —  '  See  !  here  is  Wah-ta-Wah  ; 
she  is  safe,  but  a  little  tired  ;  and  here  is  the  Son  of  Uncas, 
not  as  tired  as  the  Honeysuckle,  being  stronger,  but  just 
as  safe.'  Would  he  do  this  ?  " 

"Well,    that's    oncommon    ingen'ous  —  it's    cunning 


314  THE  DEERSLAYER 

enough  for  a  Mingo  himself.  The  Lord  only  knows  what 
put  it  into  your  head  to  ask  such  a  question.  What  would 
I  do  ?  Why,  in  the  first  place,  Hist  would  n't  be  likely  to 
be  in  my  company  at  all,  for  she  would  stay  as  near  you  as 
possible,  and  therefore  all  that  part  about  her  could  n't  be 
said  without  talking  nonsense.  As  for  her  being  tired,  that 
.would  fall  through  too,  if  she  didn't  go,  and  no  part  of 
your  speech  would  be  likely  to  come  from  me  :  so,  you 
see,  Sarpent,  reason  is  agin  you,  and  you  may  as  well  give 
it  up,  since  to  hold  out  agin  reason  is  no  way  becoming  a 
chief  of  your  character  and  repitation." 

"  My  brother  is  not  himself  ;  he  forgets  that  he  is  talk 
ing  to  one  who  has  sat  at  the  council-fires  of  his  nation," 
returned  the  other,  kindly.  "When  men  speak,  they 
should  say  that  which  does  not  go  in  at  one  side  of  the 
head,  and  out  at  the  other.  Their  words  should  n't  be 
feathers,  so  light  that  a  wind,  which  does  not  ruffle  the 
water,  can  blow  them  away.  He  has  not  answered  my 
question ;  when  a  chief  puts  a  question,  his  friend  should 
not  talk  of  other  things." 

"  I  understand  you,  Delaware,  —  I  understand  well 
enough  what  you  mean,  and  truth  won't  allow  me  to  say 
otherwise.  Still,  it 's  not  as  easy  to  answer  as  you  seem  to 
think,  for  this  plain  reason.  You  wish  me  to  say  what  I 
would  do  if  I  had  a  betrothed,  as  you  have,  here  on  the 
lake,  and  a  fri'nd  yonder  in  the  Huron  camp,  in  danger 
of  the  torments.  That 's  it,  is  n't  it  ?  " 

The  Indian  bowed  his  head  silently,  and  always  with 
unmoved  gravity,  though  his  eye  twinkled  at  the  sight  of 
the  other's  embarrassment. 

11  Well,  I  never  had  a  betrothed  ;  never  had  the  kind  of 


THE  FURLOUGH  315 

feelin's  towards  any  young  woman  that  you  have  towards 
Hist ;  though  the  Lord  knows  my  feelin'  's  kind  enough 
towards  'em  all !  Still,  my  heart,  as  they  call  it,  in  such 
matters  is  n't  touched,  and  therefore  I  can't  say  what  I 
would  do.  A  fri'nd  pulls  strong,  that  I  know  by  exper'ence, 
Sarpent ;  but,  by  all  that  I  've  seen  and  heard  consarning 
love,  I  'm  led  to  think  that  a  betrothed  pulls  stronger." 

"  True ;  but  the  betrothed  of  Chingachgook  does  not 
pull  towards  the  lodges  of  the  Delawares ;  she  pulls 
towards  the  camp  of  the  Hurons." 

"  She  's  a  noble  gal,  for  all  her  little  feet  and  hands  that 
'ain't  bigger  than  a  child's,  and  a  voice  that's  as  pleasant 
as  a  mocker's ;  she  's  a  noble  gal,  and  like  the  stock  of 
her  sires !  Well,  attempt  nothing  heedlessly,  Sarpent.  I 
suppose  you  must  and  will  have  your  way ;  and,  on  the 
whole,  it  's  right  you  should  ;  for  you  'd  neither  be  happy 
unless  something  was  undertaken.  But  attempt  nothing 
heedlessly.  I  did  n't  expect  you  'd  quit  the  lake  while  my 
matter  remained  in  unsartainty  ;  but  remember,  Sarpent, 
that  no  torments  that  Mingo  ingenuity  can  invent,  no 
ta'ntings  and  revilings,  no  burnings  and  roastings  and  nail- 
tearings,  nor  any  other  onhuman  contrivance,  can  so  soon 
break  down  my  spirit,  as  to  find  that  you  and  Hist  have 
fallen  into  the  power  of  the  inimy,  in  striving  to  'do  some 
thing  for  my  good." 

"  The  Delawares  are  prudent.  The  Deerslayer  will  not 
find  them  running  into  a  strange  camp  with  their  eyes 
shut." 

Here  the  dialogue  terminated.  Hetty  announced  that  the 
breakfast  was  ready,  and  the  whole  party  were  soon  seated 
around  the  simple  board.  Judith  was  the  last  to  take  her 


316  THE  DEERSLAYER 

seat,  pale,  silent,  and  betraying  in  her  countenance  that 
she  had  passed  a  painful  if  not  a  sleepless  night.  At  this 
meal  scarce  a  syllable  was  exchanged,  all  the  females 
manifesting  want  of  appetite,  though  the  two  men  were 
unchanged  in  this  particular.  It  was  early  when  the  party 
arose,  and  there  still  remained  several  hours  before  it 
would  be  necessary  for  the  prisoner  to  leave  his  friends. 

Deerslayer  himself,  so  far  as  human  eyes  could  pene 
trate,  was  wholly  unmoved,  conversing  cheerfully  and  natu 
rally,  though  he  avoided  any  direct  allusion  to  the  expected 
and  great  event  of  the  day.  His  first  act  on  leaving  the 
table  was  to  ask  Judith  to  step  into  the  ark  with  him. 
When  both  had  entered  the  cabin,  the  young  man  brought 
Killdeer,  the  rifle  she  had  given  him,  out  of  a  corner,  and 
after  turning  the  piece  round  and  round  and  examining  it 
affectionately,  he  proceeded  to  the  subject  fgr  which  he 
had  sought  this  interview. 

"  I  understand  you,  Judith,  to  say  that  you  gave  me  this 
rifle,"  he  said.  "  I  agreed  to  take  it  because  a  young 
woman  can  have  no  particular  use  for  firearms.  The 
we'pon  has  a  great  name,  and  it  desarves  it,  and  ought  of 
right  to  be  carried  by  some  known  and  sure  hand,  for  the 
best  reputation  may  be  lost  by  careless  and  thoughtless 
handling." 

"  Can  it  be  in  better  hands  than  those  in  which  it  is 
now,  Deerslayer  ?  Thomas  Hutter  seldom  missed  with  it ; 
with  you  it  must  turn  out  to  be  "  — 
^"  Sartain  death  !  "  interrupted  the  hunter,  laughing. 
"  I  once  know'd  a  beaver  man  that  had  a  piece  he  called 
by  that  very  name,  but  'twas  all  boastfulness,  for  I  've 
seen  Delawares  that  were  as  true  with  arrows  at  a  short 


THE  FURLOUGH  317 

range.  Hows'ever,  I  '11  not  deny  my  gifts  —  for  this  is  a 
gift,  Judith,  and  not  natur'  —  but  I  '11  not  deny  my  gifts, 
and  therefore  allow  that  the  rifle  could  n't  well  be  in  better 
hands  than  it  is  at  present.  But  how  long  will  it  be  likely 
to  remain  there  ?  Atween  us  the  truth  may  be  said,  though 
I  should  n't  like  to  have  it  known  to  the  Sarpent  and  Hist ; 
but  to  you  the  truth  may  be  spoken,  since  your  feelin's 
will  not  be  as  likely  to  be  tormented  by  it.  as  those  of  them 
that  have  known  me  longer  and  better.  How  long  am  I  like 
to  own  this  rifle  or  any  other  ?  That  is  a  serious  question 
for  our  thoughts  to  rest  on,  and  should  that  happen  which  is 
so  likely  to  happen,  Killdeer  would  be  without  an  owner." 

Appreciating  the  singular  character  of  her  companion, 
Judith  listened  and  responded  with  apparent  composure ; 
though,  had  not  his  attention  been  drawn  exclusively  to 
the  rifle,  Deerslayer  could  scarce  have  failed  to  notice  the 
effort  she  was  making  for  self-command. 

"  What  would  you  have  me  do  with  the  weapon,"  she 
asked,  "  should  that  which  you  seem  to  expect  take 
place  ?  " 

"  That's  just  what  I  wanted  to  speak  to  you  about, 
Judith  —  that 's  just  it.  There  's  Chingachgook,  now, 
though  far  from  being  parf ect  sartainty  with  a  rifle  —  for 
few  redskins  ever  get  to  be  that  —  though  far  from  being 
parfect  sartainty,  he  is  respectable,  and  is  coming  on. 
Nevertheless,  he  is  my  fri'nd  ;  and  all  the  better  fri'nd, 
perhaps,  because  there  never  can  be  any  hard  feelin's 
atween  us,  touchin'  our  gifts  ;  his'n  bein'  red,  and  mine 
bein'  altogether  white.  Now,  I  should  like  to  leave  Kill- 
deer  to  the  Sarpent,  should  anything  happen  to  keep  me 
from  doing  credit  and  honor  to  your  precious  gift,  Judith." 


318  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"Leave  it  to  whom  you  please,  Deerslayer ;  the  rifle 
is  your  own,  to  do  with  as  you  please;  Chingachgook  shall 
have  it,  should  you  never  return  to  claim  it,  if  that  be 
your  wish." 

"  Has  Hetty  been  consulted  in  this  matter  ?  Property 
goes  from  the  parent  to  the  children,  and  not  to  one  child 
in  partic'lar." 

The  girl  made  no  answer ;  but,  placing  herself  at  a 
window,  she  summoned  her  sister  to  her  side.  When  the 
question  was  put  to  Hetty,  her  simple-minded  and  affec 
tionate  nature  cheerfully  assented  to  the  proposal  to  confer 
on  Deerslayer  a  full  right  of  ownership  to  the  much-cov 
eted  rifle.  The  latter  now  seemed  perfectly  happy,  ex 
amining  and  reexamining  his  prize.  Returning  to  the 
platform,  he  took  the  Delaware  aside  and  informed  him 
that  this  celebrated  piece  was  to  become  his  property,  in 
the  event  of  anything  serious  befalling  himself. 

"  This  is  a  new  reason  why  you  should  be  wary,  Sar- 
pent,  and  not  run  into  any  oncalculated  danger,"  the  hunter 
added,  "  for  it  will  be  victory  of  itself,  to  a  tribe,  to  own 
such  a  piece  as  this  !  The  Mingos  will  turn  green  with 
envy ;  and,  what  is  more,  they  will  not  ventur'  heedlessly 
near  a  village  where  it  is  known  to  be  kept.  So  look  well 
to  it,  Delaware,  and  remember  that  you  've  now  to  watch 
over  a  thing  that  has  all  the  valie  of  a  creatur',  without  its 
failin's.  Hist  may  be  and  should  be  precious  to  you,  but 
Killdeer  will  have  the  love  and  veneration  of  your  whole 
people." 

The  hours  passed  all  too  quickly  for  the  party  in  the  ark, 
and  soon  the  sun  had  ascended  so  high  in  the  heavens  that 
Deerslayer  began  to  prepare  for  his  departure.  Tenderly 


THE  FURLOUGH  319 

and  calmly  he  spoke  a  few  farewell  words  to  each  of  the 
group,  the  others  withdrawing  in  order  that  the  conver 
sation  might  be  held  unheard  ;  but  at  last  the  canoe  was 
ready,  and  the  time  had  come  to  set  forth.  Judith  had 
insisted  that  the  hunter  allow  Hetty  to  accompany  him  to 
the  camp,  arguing  that  her  presence  could  do  no  harm 
and  might  do  great  good  to  Deerslayer,  while  the  girl 
herself  was  perfectly  safe  from  any  danger. 

"  The  best  fri'nds  must  often  part,"  Deerslayer  began, 
when  he  and  Hetty  were  in  the  canoe,  and  the  whole  party 
was  grouped  around  him,  -  "Yes,  fri'ndship  can't  alter 
the  ways  of  Providence ;  and  let  our  feelin's  be  as  they 
may,  we  must  part.  God  bless  you,  Judith,  and  you,  Hist ! 
Sarpent  —  God  bless  you  !  "  cried  the  hunter,  as  the  canoe 
left  the  side  of  the  platform.  "  Your  Manitou  and  my 
God  only  knows  when  and  where  we  shall  meet  agin ;  I 
shall  count  it  a  great  blessing,  and  a  full  reward  for 
any  little  good  I  may  have  done  on  'arth,  if  we  shall  be 
permitted  to  know  each  other,  and  to  consort  together, 
hereafter,  as  we  have  so  long  done  in  these  pleasant 
woods  afore  us  !  " 

The  canoe  now  glided  ahead,  holding  its  way  towards 
the  point  where  Deerslayer  well  knew  that  his  enemies 
expected  him,  and  where  he  now  began  to  be  afraid  he 
might  not  arrive  in  season  to  redeem  his  plighted  faith. 
Hetty  perceiving  his  impatience,  without  very  clearly  com 
prehending  its  cause,  however,  seconded  his  efforts  in  a 
way  that  soon  rendered  their  timely  return  no  longer  a 
matter  of  doubt.  Even  then  the  sun  wanted  but  two  or 
three  minutes  of  the  zenith  when  Deerslayer  landed  on 
the  point  where  the  Hurons  were  encamped. 


320  THE  DEERSLAYER 

If  it  was  a  point  of  honor  with  the  Indian  warrior  to 
redeem  his  word,  when  pledged  to  return  and  meet  his 
death  at  a  given  hour,  so  was  it  a  point  of  characteristic 
pride  to  show  no  womanish  impatience,  but  to  reappear  as 
nearly  as  possible  at  the  appointed  moment.  The  Hurons 
had  been  divided  in  their  opinions  concerning  the  proba 
bility  of  their  captive's  return.  Most  among  them,  indeed, 
had  not  expected  it  possible  for  a  paleface  to  come  back 
voluntarily,  and  meet  the  known  penalties  of  an  Indian 
torture  ;  but  a  few  of  the  seniors  expected  better  things 
from  one  who  had  already  shown  himself  so  singularly 
cool,  brave,  and  upright.  With  a  view  to  render  the  tri 
umph  as  signal  as  possible,  in  the  event  of  the  hour's  pass 
ing  without  the  reappearance  of  the  hunter,  all  the  warriors 
and  scouts  of  the  party  had  been  called  in  ;  and  the  whole 
band,  men,  women,  and  children,  was  now  assembled  at 
this  single  point,  —  to  be  a  witness  of  the  expected  scene. 

When  the  young  man  put  his  foot  on  the  point  and 
advanced  with  a  steady  tread  towards  the  group  of  chiefs 
that  was  seated  in  grave  array  on  a  fallen  tree,  the  oldest 
of  their  number  cast  his  eye  upward  at  an  opening  in  the 
trees,  and  pointed  out  to  his  companions  the  startling 
fact  that  the  sun  was  just  entering  a  space  that  was  known 
to  mark  the  zenith.  A  common,  but  low,  exclamation  of 
surprise  escaped  every  mouth,  and  the  grim  warriors 
looked  at  each  other ;  some  with  astonishment,  and  all 
with  admiration.  The  paleface  had  kept  his  word,  and 
Deerslayer's  furlough  was  over. 


PART  VI.    THE  DELIVERANCE 


CHAPTER  I 

It  was  an  imposing  scene  into  which  Deerslayer  now  ' 
found  himself  advancing.  All  the  older  warriors  were 
seated  on  the  trunk  of  the  fallen  tree,  waiting  his  approach 
with  grave  decorum.  On  the  right  stood  the  young  men,  • 
armed,  while  the  left  was  occupied  by  the  women  and 
children.  In  the  centre  was  an  open  space  of  considerable 
extent,  always  canopied  by  leaves,  but  from  which  the  un 
derbrush,  dead  wood,  and  other  obstacles  had  been  care 
fully  removed.  The  more  open  area  had  probably  been 
much  used  by  former  parties,  for  this  was  the  place  where 
the  appearance  of  a  sward  was  the  most  decided.  The 
arches  of  the  woods,  even  at  high  noon,  cast  their  sombre 
shadows  on  the  spot,  which  the  brilliant  rays  of  the  sun 
that  struggled  through  the  leaves  contributed  to  light. 

As  was  not  unusual  among  the  Indians,  two  chiefs  shared 
the  principal  authority  over  the  tribe,  Rivenoak,  the  senior, 
whom  the  reader  has  already  met,  taking  the  leadership 
in  council  on  account  of  his  eloquence,  wisdom,  and.  pru 
dence,  and  the  Panther,  as  his  rival  was  called,  being  dis 
tinguished  for  his  courage  and  ferocity  and  cunning  on 
the  warpath.  The  two  sat  side  by  side,  awaiting  the  ap 
proach  of  their  prisoner,  as  Deerslayer  put  his  moccasined 
foot  on  the  strand  ;  nor  did  either  move  or  utter  a  syllable 

321 


322  THE  DEERSLAYER 

until  the  young  man  had  advanced  into  the  centre  of  the 
area,  and  proclaimed  his  presence  with  his  voice. 

"  Here  I  am,  Mingos,"  he  said,  in  the  dialect  of  the 
Delawares,  a  language  that  most  present  understood ; 
"  here  I  am,  and  there  is  the  sun.  One  is  not  more  true 
to  the  laws  of  natur'  than  the  other  has  proved  true  to  his 
word.  I  am  your  prisoner ;  do  with  me  what  you  please. 
My  business  with  man  and  'arth  is  settled  ;  nothing  re 
mains  now  but  to  meet  the  white  man's  God,  accordin' 
to  a  white  man's  duties  and  gifts." 

A  murmur  of  approbation  escaped  even  the  women  at 
this  address,  and,  for  an  instant,  there  was  a  strong  and 
pretty  general  desire  to  adopt  into  the  tribe  one  who  owned 
so  brave  a  spirit.  Still  there  were  dissenters  from  this 
wish,  among  the  principal  of  whom  might  be  classed  the 
Panther,  and  his  sister,  Le  Sumach,  the  widow  of  Le 
Loup  Cervier,  who  had  fallen  by  the  hand  of  the  captive. 
Not  so  with  Rivenoak.  This  chief  arose,  stretched  his 
arm  before  him,  in  a  gesture  of  courtesy,  and  paid  his 
compliments  with  an  ease  and  dignity  that  a  prince  might 
have  envied. 

11  Paleface,  you  are  honest,"  said  the  Huron  orator. 
"  My  people  are  happy  in  having  captured  a  man,  and  not 
a  skulking  fox.  We  now  know  you ;  we  shall  treat  you 
like  a  brave.  If  you  have  slain  one  of  our  warriors,  and 
helped  to  kill  others,  you  have  a  life  of  your  own  ready  to 
give  away  in  return.  Some  of  my  young  men  thought 
that  the  blood  of  a  paleface  was  too  thin ;  that  it  would 
refuse  to  run  under  the  Huron  knife.  You  will  show  them 
it  is  not  so ;  your  heart  is  stout  as  well  as  your  body.  It 
is  a  pleasure  to  make  such  a  prisoner  ;  should  my  warriors 


THE  DELIVERANCE  323 

say  that  the  death  of  Le  Loup  Cervier  ought  not  to  be 
forgotten,  and  that  he  cannot  travel  towards  the  land  of 
spirits  alone,  that  his  enemy  must  be  sent  to  overtake 
him,  they  will  remember  that  he  fell  by  the  hand  of  a 
brave,  and  send  you  after  him  with  such  signs  of  our 
friendship  as  shall  not  make  him  ashamed  to  keep  your 
company.  I  have  spoken  ;  you  know  what  I  have  said." 

"  True  enough,  Mingo,  all  true  as  the  gospel,"  returned 
the  simple-minded  hunter;  "you  have  spoken,  and  I  do 
know  not  only  what  you  have  said,  but,  what  is  still  more 
important,  what  you  mean.  I  dare  say  your  warrior,  the 
Lynx,  was  a  stout-hearted  brave,  and  worthy  of  your  fri'nd- 
ship  and  respect,  but  I  do  not  feel  unworthy  to  keep  his 
company  without  any  passport  from  your  hands.  But 
words  are  useless,  and  lead  to  braggin'  feelin's ;  here  I 
am  ;  act  your  will  on  me." 

Rivenoak  made  a  sign  of  acquiescence,  and  then  a  short 
conference  was  privately  held  among  the  chiefs.  As  soon 
as  the  latter  ended,  three  or  four  young  men  fell  back 
from  among  the  armed  group,  and  disappeared.  Then  it 
was  signified  to  the  prisoner  that  he  was  at  liberty  to  go 
at  large  on  the  point,  until  a  council  was  held  concerning 
his  fate.  There  was  more  of  seeming,  than  of  real  confi 
dence,  however,  in  this  apparent-  liberality,  inasmuch  as 
the  young  men  mentioned  already  formed  a  line  of  senti 
nels  across  the  breadth  of  the  point,  inland,  and  escape 
from  any  other  part  was  out  of  the  question.  Even  the 
canoe  was  removed  beyond  this  line  of  sentinels,  to  a  spot 
where  it  was  considered  safe  from  any  sudden  attempt. 
As  Deerslayer  walked  about,  he  examined  all  possibilities 
of  escape  or  concealment,  but  no  opening  presented  itself. 


324  THE  DEERSLAYER 

In  the  meantime  the  business  of  the  camp  appeared  to 
proceed  in  its  regular  train.  The  chiefs  consulted  apart, 
admitting  no  one  but  the  Sumach  to  their  councils  ;  for 
she,  the  widow  of  the  fallen  warrior,  had  an  exclusive 
right  to  be  heard  on  such  an  occasion.  The  young  men 
strolled  about  in  indolent  listlessness,  awaiting  the  result, 
while  the  females  prepared  the  feast  that  was  to  celebrate 
the  termination  of  the  affair,  whether  it  proved  fortunate 
or  otherwise  for  our  hero.  No  one  betrayed  feeling  —  and 
an  indifferent  observer,  beyond  the  extreme  watchfulness 
of  the  sentinels,  would  have  detected  no  extraordinary 
movement  or  sensation  to  denote  the  real  state  of  things. 
In  this  manner  an  hour  glided  away. 

Suspense  is,  perhaps,  the  feeling,  of  all  others,  that  is 
most  difficult  to  be  supported.  When  Deerslayer  landed, 
he  fully  expected  in  the  course  of  a  few  minutes  to  under 
go  the  tortures  of  an  Indian  revenge,  and  he  was  prepared 
to  meet  his  fate  manfully ;  but  the  delay  proved  far  more 
trying  than  the  nearer  approach  of  suffering,  and  the  in 
tended  victim  began  seriously  to  meditate  some  desperate 
effort  at  escape,  as  it  might  be  from  sheer  anxiety  to  ter 
minate  the  scene,  when  he  was  suddenly  summoned  to 
appear  once  more  in  front  of  his  judges,  who  had  already 
arranged  the  band  in  its  former  order,  in  readiness  to 
receive  him. 

"  Killer  of  the  Deer,"  commenced  Rivenoak,  as  soon 
as  his  captive  stood  before  him,  "  my  aged  men  have  lis 
tened  to  wise  words  ;  they  are  ready  to  speak.  You  are  a 
man  whose  fathers  came  from  beyond  the  rising  sun  ;  we 
are  children  of  the  setting  sun  ;  we  turn  our  faces  towards 
the  Great  Sweet  Lakes  when  we  look  towards  our  villages. 


THE  DELIVERANCE  325 

It  may  be  a  wise  country  and  full  of  riches  towards  the 
morning,  but  it  is  very  pleasant  towards  the  evening.  We 
love  most  to  look  in  that  direction.  When  we  gaze  at  the 
east  we  feel  afraid,  canoe  after  canoe  bringing  more  and 
more  of  your  people  in  the  track  of  the  sun,  as  if  their 
land  was  so  full  as  to  run  over.  The  red-men  are  few 
already  ;  they  have  need  of  help.  One  of  our  best  lodges 
has  lately  been  emptied  by  the  death  of  its  master  ;  it  will 
be  a  long  time  before  his  son  can  grow  big  enough  to  sit 
in  his  place.  There  is  his  widow !  she  will  want  venison 
to  feed  her  and  her  children,  for  her  sons  are  yet  like  the 
young  of  the  robin  before  they  quit  the  nest.  By  your 
hand  has  this  great  calamity  befallen  her.  She  has  two 
duties  ;  one  to  Le  Loup  Cervier,  and  one  to  his  children. 
Scalp  for  scalp,  life  for  life,  blood  for  blood,  is  one  law ; 
to  feed  her  young  another.  We  know  you,  Killer  of  the 
Deer.  You  are  honest ;  when  you  say  a  thing  it  is  so. 
You  have  but  one  tongue,  and  that  is  not  forked  like  a 
snake's.  Your  head  is  never  hid  in  the  grass  ;  all  can  see 
it.  What  you  say,  that  will  you  do.  You  are  just.  When 
you  have  done  wrong,  it  is  your  wish  to  do  right  again  as 
soon  as  you  can.  Here  is  the  Sumach  ;  she  is  alone  in 
her  wigwam,  with  children  crying  around  her  for  food ; 
yonder  is  a  rifle,  it  is  loaded  and  ready  to  be  fired.  Take 
the  gun  ;  go  forth  and  shoot  a  deer  ;  bring  the  venison 
and  lay  it  before  the  widow  of  Le  Loup  Cervier,  —  feed 
her  children  ;  call  yourself  her  husband.  After  which, 
your  heart  will  no  longer  be  Delaware,  but  Huron  ;  Le 
Sumach's  ears  will  not  hear  the  cries  of  her  children  ; 
my  people  will  count  the  proper  number  of  warriors." 
11  I  feared  this,  Rivenoak,"  answered  Deerslayer,  when 


326  THE  DEERSLAYER 

the  other  had  ceased  speaking;  "yes,  I  did  dread  that'it 
would  come  to  this.  Hows'ever,  the  truth  is  soon  told, 
and  that  will  put  an  end  to  all  expectations  on  this  head. 
Mingo,  I'm  white,  and  Christian-born.  I  may  never 
marry  ;  but  should  such  a  thing  come  to  pass,  none  but  a 
woman  of  my  own  color  and  gifts  shall  darken  the  door 
of  my  wigwam.  As  for  feeding  the  young  of  your  dead 
warrior,  I  would  do  that  cheerfully,-  could  it  be  done  with 
out  discredit ;  but  it  cannot,  seeing  that  I  can  never  live 
in  a  Huron  village.  Your  own  young  men  must  find  the 
Sumach  in  venison,  and  the  next  time  she  marries,  let  her 
take  a  husband  whose  legs  are  not  long  enough  to  over 
run  territory  that  don't  belong  to  him.  We  fou't  a  fair 
battle,  and  he  fell,  —  in  this  there  is  nothin'  but  what  a 
brave  expects,  and  should  be  ready  to  meet.  As  for  get 
ting  a  Mingo  heart,  as  well  might  you  expect  to  see  gray 
hairs  on  a  boy,  or  the  blackberry  growing  on  the  pine. 
No,  no,  Huron  ;  my  gifts  are  white,  so  far  as  wives  are 
consarned  ;  it  is  Delaware  in  all  things  touchin'  Injins." 

These  words  were  scarcely  out  of  the  mouth  of  Deer- 
slayer  before  a  common  murmur  betrayed  the  dissatisfac 
tion  with  which  they  had  been  heard.  The  aged  women, 
in  particular,  were  loud  in  their  expressions  of  disgust; 
and  the  Sumach  herself,  an  ugly  middle-aged  woman  old 
enough  to  be  our  hero's  mother,  was  not  the  least  pacific 
in  her  denunciations.  But  all  the  other  manifestations  of 
disappointment  and  discontent  were  thrown  into  the  back 
ground  by  the  fierce  resentment  of  the  Panther.  This 
grim  chief  had  thought  it  a  degradation  to  permit  his  sis 
ter  to  become  the  wife  of  a  paleface  of  the  Yengeese  at  all, 
and  had  only  given  a  reluctant  consent  to  the  arrangement 


THE  DELIVERANCE  327 

at  the  earnest  solicitations  of  the  bereaved  widow ;  and 
it  goaded  him  to  the  quick  to  find  his  condescension 
slighted,  the  honor  he  with  so  much  regret  had  been  per 
suaded  to  accord,  contemned.  The  animal  from  which  he 
got  his  name  does  not  glare  on  his  intended  prey  with 
more  frightful  ferocity  than  his  eyes  gleamed  on  the 
captive. 

"  Dog  of  the  palefaces  !  "  he  exclaimed,  "  go  yell  among~ 
the  curs  of  your  own  evil  hunting-grounds  !  " 

Even  while  speaking  his  arm  was  lifted  and  the  toma 
hawk  hurled.  Luckily  the  loud  tones  of  the  speaker  had 
drawn  the  eye  of  Deerslayer  towards  him.  So  great  was 
the  dexterity  with  which  this  dangerous  weapon  was 
thrown,  and  so  deadly  the  intent,  that  it  would  have  riven 
the  skull  of  the  prisoner,  had  he  not  stretched  forth  an 
arm  and  caught  the  handle  in  one  of  its  turns,  with  a  read 
iness  quite  as  remarkable  as  the  skill  with  which  the  mis 
sile  had  been  hurled.  The  projectile  force  was  so  great, 
notwithstanding,  that  when  Deerslayer's  arm  was  arrested 
his  hand  was  raised  above  and  behind  his  own  head,  and 
in  the  very  attitude  necessary  to  return  the  attack.  Throw 
ing  prudence  and  forbearance  to  the  winds,  he  cast  all  his 
energy  into  the  effort  of  his  arm,  and  threw  back  the 
weapon  at  his  assailant.  The  unexpectedness  of  this  blow 
contributed  to  its  success  —  the  Panther  neither  raising  an 
arm  nor  bending  his  head  to  avoid  it.  The  keen  little  axe 
struck  the  victim  in  a  perpendicular  line  with  the  nose, 
directly  between  the  eyes,  and  he  fell  his  length  into  the 
open  arena,  quivering  in  death.  A  common  rush  to  his 
relief  left  the  captive,  for  a  single  instant,  quite  .without 
the  crowd  ;  and,  willing  to  make  one  desperate  effort  for 


328  THE  DEERSLAYER 

life,  he  bounded  off  with  the  activity  of  a  deer.  There 
was  but  a  breathless  instant,  when  the  whole  band,  old  and 
young,  women  and  children,  abandoning  the  lifeless  body 
of  the  Panther  where  it  lay,  raised  the  yell  of  alarm,  and 
followed  in  pursuit. 

Sudden  as  had  been  the  event  which  induced  Deer- 
slayer  to  make  this  desperate  trial  of  speed,  his  mind  was 
not  wholly  unprepared  for  the  fearful  emergency.  In  the 
course  of  the  past  hour,  he  had  pondered  well  on  the 
chances  of  such  an  experiment,  and  had  shrewdly  calcu 
lated  all  the  details  of  success  and  failure.  At  the  first  leap, 
therefore,  he  held  his  way  in  the  direction  he  had  decided 
upon  as  best  to  avoid  the  sentinels.  This  was  straight  into 
the  water,  in  which  he  ran  for  some  forty  or  fifty  yards  along 
the  edge,  where  it  was  barely  knee-deep.  Then  as  soon  as 
a  favorable  spot  presented,  he  darted  through  the  bushes 
that  fringed  the  shore  and  into  the  open  woods. 

Several  rifles  were  discharged  at  Deerslayer  while  in 
the  water,  and  more  followed  as  he  came  out  into  the 
comparative  exposure  of  the  clear  forest.  But  the  direc 
tion  of  his  line  of  flight,  which  partially  crossed  that  of 
the  fire,  the  haste  with  which  the  weapons  had  been  aimed, 
and  the  general  confusion  that  prevailed  in  the  camp, 
prevented  any  harm  from  being  done.  Bullets  whistled 
past  him,  and  many  cut  twigs  from  the  branches  at  his 
side,  but  not  one  touched  even  his  dress.  The  delay  caused 
by  these  fruitless  attempts  was  of  great  service  to  the  fugi 
tive,  who  had  gained  more  than  a  hundred  yards  on  even 
the  leading  men  of  the'  Hurons,  ere  something  like  concert 
and  order  had  entered  into  the  chase.  Deerslayer  held 
his  way  steadily  up  the  hill  behind  the  point,  although  he 


THE  DELIVERANCE  329 

had  to  slacken  his  speed  as  he  ascended,  in  order  to 
recover  breath.  The  Hurons  were  whooping  and  leaping 
behind  him  ;  but  this  he  disregarded,  well  knowing  they 
must  overcome  the  difficulties  he  had  surmounted  ere  they 
could  reach  the  elevation  to  which  he  had  attained.  The 
summit  of  the  first  hill  was  now  quite  near  him,  and  he 
saw,  by  the  formation  of  the  land,  that  a  deep  glen  inter 
vened  before  the  base  of  a  second  hill  could  be  reached. 
Walking  deliberately  to  the  summit,  he  glanced  eagerly 
about  him,  in  every  direction,  in  quest  of  a  cover.  None 
offered  in  the  ground  —  but  a  fallen  tfee  lay  near  him, 
and  desperate  circumstances  required  desperate  remedies. 
This  tree  lay  in  a  line  parallel  to  the  glen,  at  the  brow  of 
the  hill  ;  to  leap  on  it,  and  then  to  force  his  person 
as  close  as  possible  under  its  lower  side,  took  but  a  mo 
ment.  Previously  to  disappearing  from  his  pursuers,  how 
ever,  Deerslayer  stood  on  the  height,  and  gave  a  cry  of 
triumph,  as  if  exulting  at  the  sight  of  the  descent  that  lay 
before  him.  In  the  next  instant  he  was  stretched  beneath 
the  tree. 

No  sooner  was  this  expedient  ado'pted  than  the  young 
man  ascertained  how  desperate  had  been  his  own  efforts 
by  the  violence  of  the  pulsation  in  his  frame.  He  could 
hear  his  heart  beat,  and  his  breathing  was  like  the  action 
of  a  bellows  in  quick  motion.  The  footsteps  of  those  who 
toiled  up  the  opposite  side  of  the  acclivity  were  now  audi 
ble,  and  presently  voices  and  treads  announced  the  arrival 
of  the  pursuers.  The  foremost  shouted  as  they  reached 
the  height ;  then,  fearful  that  their  enemy  would  es 
cape  under  favor  of  the  descent,  each  leaped  upon  the 
fallen  tree,  and  plunged  into  the  ravine,  trusting  to  get  a 


330  THE  DEERSLAYER 

sight  of  the  pursued  ere  he  reached  the  bottom.  In  this 
manner  Huron  followed  Huron,  until  Natty  began  to  hope 
the  whole  had  passed.  Others  succeeded,  however,  until 
quite  forty  had  leaped  over  the  tree  ;  and  then  he  counted 
them,  as  the  surest  mode  of  ascertaining  how  many  could 
be  behind.  Presently  all  were  in  the  bottom  of  the  glen, 
quite  a  hundred  feet  below  him,  and  some  had  even  as 
cended  part  of  the  opposite  hill,  when  it  became  evident 
an  inquiry  was  making,  as  to  the  direction  he  had  taken. 
This  was  the  critical  moment ;  and  one  of  nerves  less 
steady,  or  of  a  training  that  had  been  neglected,  would 
have  seized  it  to  rise  and  fly.  Not  so  with  Deerslayer. 
He  still  lay  quiet,  watching  with  jealous  vigilance  every 
movement  below,  and  fast  regaining  his  breath. 

The  Hurons  now  resembled  a  pack  of  hounds  at  fault. 
Little  was  said,  but  each  man  ran  about,  examining  the 
dead  leaves  as  the  hound  hunts  for  the  lost  scent.  The 
great  number  of  moccasins  that  had  passed  made  the 
examination  difficult,  though  the  in-toe  of  an  Indian  was 
easily  to  be  distinguished  from  the  freer  and  wider  step 
of  a  white  man.  Believing  that  no  more  pursuers  re 
mained  behind,  and  hoping  to  steal  away  unseen,  Deer- 
slayer  suddenly  threw  himself  over  the  tree,  and  fell  on 
the  upper  side.  This  achievement  appeared  to  be  effected 
successfully,  and  hope  beat  high  in  the  bosom  of  the 
fugitive.  Rising  to  his  hands  and  feet,  after  a  moment 
lost  in  listening  to  the  sounds  in  the  glen  in  order  to 
ascertain  if  he  had  been  seen,  the  young  man  next  scram 
bled  to  the  top  of  the  hill,  a  distance  of  only  ten  yards, 
in  the  expectation  of  getting  its  brow  between  him  and 
his  pursuers,  and  himself  so  far  under  cover.  Even  this 


THE  DELIVERANCE  331 

was  effected,  and  he  rose  to  his  feet,  walking  swiftly  but 
steadily  along  the  summit,  in  a  direction  opposite  to  that 
in  which  he  had  first  fled.  The  nature  of  the  calls  in 
the  glen,  however,  soon  made  him  uneasy,  and  he  sprang 
upon  the  summit,  again,  in  order  to  reconnoitre.  No 
sooner  did  he  reach  the  height  than  he  was  seen,  and 
the  chase  renewed.  As  it  was  better  footing  on  the  level 
ground,  Deerslayer  now  avoided  the  side-hill,  holding  his 
flight  along  the  ridge  ;  while  the  Hurons,  judging  from 
the  general  formation  of  the  land,  saw  that  the  ridge  would 
soon  melt  into  the  hollow,  and  kept  to  the  latter  as  the 
easiest  mode  of  heading  the  fugitive. 

When  Deerslayer  found  that  he  was  descending  towards 
the  glen,  by  the  melting  away  of  the  ridge,  he  turned 
short,  at  right  angles  to  his  previous  course,  and  went 
down  the  declivity  with  tremendous  velocity,  holding  his 
way  towards  the  shore.  Some  of  his  pursuers  came  pant 
ing  up  the  hill,  in  direct  chase,  while  most  still  kept  on, 
in  the  ravine,  intending  to  head  him  at  its  termination. 
Deerslayer  had  now  a  different,  though  a  desperate,  proj 
ect  in  view.  Abandoning  all  thoughts  of  escape  by  the 
woods,  he  made  the  best  of  his  way  towards  the  canoe.  He 
knew  where  it  lay  ;  could  it  be  reached,  he  had  only  to  run 
the  gauntlet  of  a  few  rifles,  and  success  would  be  certain. 

As  Deerslayer  approached  the  point,  several  women 
and  children  were  passed,  but,  though  the  former  endeav 
ored  to  cast  dried  branches  between  his  legs,  the  terror 
inspired  by  his  bold  retaliation  on  the  redoubted  Panther 
was  so  great  that  none  dared  come  near  enough  seriously 
to  molest  him.  He  went  by  all  triumphantly,  and  reached 
the  fringe  of  bushes.  Plunging  through  these,  our  hero 


332  THE  DEERSLAYER 

found  himself  once  more  in  the  lake  and  within  fifty  feet 
of  the  canoe.  Here  he  ceased  to  run,  for  he  well  under 
stood  that  his  breath  was  now  all-important  to  him.  He 
even  stooped,  as  he  advanced,  and  cooled  his  parched 
mouth,  by  scooping  up  water  in  his  hand  to  drink.  Still 
the  moments  pressed,  and  he  soon  stood  at  the  side  of  the 
canoe.  The  first  glance  told  him  that  the  paddles  had  been 
removed !  This  was  a  sore  disappointment  after  all  his 
efforts,  and,  for  a  single  moment,  he  thought  of  turning  and 
of  facing  his  foes  by  walking  with  dignity  into  the  centre 
of  the  camp  again.  But  an  infernal  yell  proclaimed  the 
quick  approach  of  the  nearest  of  his  pursuers,  and  the  in 
stinct  of  life  triumphed.  Preparing  himself  duly,  and  giv 
ing  a  right  direction  to  its  bows,  he  ran  off  into  the  water 
bearing  the  canoe  before  him,  threw  all  his  strength  and 
skill  into  a  last  effort,  and  cast  himself  forward  so  as  to  fall 
into  the  bottom  of  the  light  craft,  without  materially  im 
peding  its  way.  Here  he  remained  on  his  back,  both  to 
regain  his  breath  and  to  cover  his  person  from  the  deadly 
rifle.  The  lightness,  which  was  such  an  advantage  in  pad 
dling  the  canoe,  now  operated  unfavorably.  The  material 
was  so  like  a  feather  that  the  boat  had  no  momentum  ; 
else  would  the  impulse  in  that  smooth  and  placid  sheet 
have  impelled  it  to  a  distance  from  the  shore  that  would 
have  rendered  paddling  with  the  hands  safe.  Could  such 
a  point  once  be  reached,  Deerslayer  thought  he  might 
get  far  enough  out  to  attract  the  attention  of  Chingach- 
gook  and  Judith,  who  would  not  fail  to  come  to  his  relief 
with  other  canoes,  —  a  circumstance  that  promised  every 
thing.  As  the  young  man  lay  in  the  bottom  of  the  canoe 
he  watched  its  movements,  by  studying  the  tops  of  the 


THE  DELIVERANCE  333 

trees  on  the  mountain-side,  and  judged  of  his  distance  by 
the  time  and  the  motion.  Voices  on  the  shore  were  now 
numerous,  and  he  heard  something  said  about  manning 
the  raft,  which  fortunately  for  the  fugitive  lay  at  a  con 
siderable  distance  on  the  other  side  of  the  point. 

Perhaps  the  situation  of  Deerslayer  had  not  been  more 
critical  that  day  than  it  was  at  this  moment.  It  certainly 
had  not  been  one  half  as  tantalizing.  He  lay  perfectly 
quiet  for  two  or  three  minutes,  trusting  to  the  single  sense 
of  hearing,  confident  that  the  noise  on  the  lake  would 
reach  his  ears  did  any  one  venture  to  approach  by  swim 
ming.  Once  or  twice  he  fancied  that  the  element  was 
stirred  by  the  cautious  movement  of  an  arm,  and  then  he 
perceived  it  was  the  wash  of  the  water  on  the  pebbles  of 
the  strand.  Suddenly  all  the  voices  ceased,  and  a  death 
like  stillness  pervaded  the  spot.  By  this  time  the  canoe 
had  drifted  so  far  as  to  render  nothing  visible  to  Deer- 
slayer,  as  he  lay  on  his  back,  except  the  blue  void  of  space, 
and  a  few  of  those  brighter  rays  that  proceed  from  the 
effulgence  of  the  sun,  marking  his  proximity.  It  was  not 
possible  to  endure  this  uncertainty  long.  The  young  man 
well  knew  that  the  profound  stillness  foreboded  evil,  the 
savages  never  being  so  silent  as  when  about  to  strike  a 
blow  —  resembling  the  stealthy  foot  of  the  panther  ere  he 
takes  his  leap.  He  took  out  a  knife,  and  was  about  to  cut 
a  hole  through  the  bark  in  order  to  get  a  view  of  the  shore, 
when  he  paused  from  a  dread  of  being  seen  in  the  opera 
tion,  which  would  direct  the  enemy  where  to  aim  their 
bullets.  At  this  instant  a  rifle  was  fired,  and  the  ball 
pierced  both  sides  of  the  canoe  within  eighteen  inches 
of  the  spot  where  his  head  lay. 


334  THE  DEERSLAYER 

Deerslayer  now  felt  the  urgent  necessity  of  resorting  to 
some  expedient  to  get  further  from  his  foes,  and  if  possible 
to  apprise  his  friends  of  his  situation.  Before  quitting  the 
shore,  and  as  soon  as  he  perceived  that  the  paddles  were 
gone,  Deerslayer  had  thrown  a  bit  of  dead  branch  into  the 
canoe,  and  this  was  within  reach  of  his  arm.  With  this  he 
attempted  to  row,  and  was  succeeding  even  better  than  he 
hoped,  though  still  under  the  necessity  of  lying  flat  on  his 
back.  That  his  present  manoeuvre  was  seen  soon  became 
apparent  by  the  clamor  on  the  shore,  and  a  bullet,  entering 
the  stern  of  the  canoe,  traversed  its  length,  whistling  be 
tween  the  arms  of  our  hero,  and  passed  out  at  the  head. 
He  was  making  a  stronger  push  than  common,  when 
another  messenger  from  the  point  broke  the  stick,  and  at 
once  deprived  him  of  his  oar.  As  the  sound  of  voices 
seemed  to  grow  more  and  more  distant,  however,  Deer- 
slayer  determined  to  leave  all  to  the  drift,  until  he  believed 
himself  beyond  the  reach  of  bullets.  This  was  nervous 
work,  but  it  was  the  wisest  of  all  the  expedients  that 
offered  ;  and  the  young  man  was  encouraged  to  persevere 
in  it  by  the  circumstance  that  he  felt  his  face  fanned  by 
the  air,  a  proof  that  there  was  a  little  more  wind. 

CHAPTER   II 

By  this  time  Deerslayer  had  been  twenty  minutes  in  the 
canoe,  and  he  began  to  grow  a  little  impatient.  The 
position  of  the  boat  still  prevented  his  seeing  in  any  direc 
tion,  unless  it  were  up  or  down  the  lake.  The  profound 
stillness  troubled  him  also,  for  he  knew  not  whether  to 
ascribe  it  to  the  increasing  space  between  him  and  the 
Indians  or  to  some  new  artifice. 


THE  DELIVERANCE  335 

Some  additional  ten  minutes  may  have  passed  in  this 
quiescent  manner  on  both  sides,  when  Deerslayer  thought 
he  heard  a  slight  noise,  like  a  low  rubbing  against  the 
bottom  of  his  canoe.  He  opened  his  eyes  of  course,  in  ex 
pectation  of  seeing  the  face  or  arm  of  an  Indian  rising  from 
the  water,  and  found  that  a  canopy  of  leaves  was  impending 
directly  over  his  head.  Starting  to  his  feet,  the  first  object 
that  met  his  eye  was  Rivenoak,  who  had  so  far  aided  the 
slow  progress  of  the  boat  as  to  draw  it  on  the  point,  the 
grating  on  the  strand  being  the  sound  that  had  first  given 
our  hero  the  alarm.  The  change  in  the  drift  of  the  canoe 
had  been  altogether  owing  to  the  baffling  nature  of  the 
light  currents  of  air,  aided  by  some  eddies  in  the  water. 

"  Come,"  said  the  Huron,  with  a  quiet  gesture  of  au 
thority  to  order  his  prisoner  to  land  ;  "  my  young  friend 
has  sailed  about  till  he  is  tired  ;  he  will  forget  how  to  run 
again,  unless  he  uses  his  legs." 

"You've  the  best  of  it,  Huron,"  returned  Deerslayer, 
stepping  steadily  from  the  canoe  ;  "  Providence  has  helped 
you  in  an  onexpected  manner.  I  'm  your  prisoner  agin, 
and  I  hope  you  '11  allow  that  I  'm  as  good  at  breaking  jail 
as  I  am  at  keeping  furloughs." 

"  My  brother  has  had  a  long  run  on  the  hills,  and  a 
pleasant  sail  on  the  water,"  returned  Rivenoak,  smiling. 
"  He  has  seen  the  woods  ;  he  has  seen  the  water.  Now 
let  him  wait ;  when  we  want  him,  the  name  of  Deerslayer 
will  be  called." 

This  conversation  had  been  held  with  no  one  near  but 
the  speakers.  As  soon  as  Rivenoak  had  ceased  speaking, 
he  walked  towards  the  line  of  trees,  and  disappeared 
shortly  behind  the  covers  of  the  forest,  leaving  Deerslayer 


336  THE  DEERSLAYER 

by  himself.  Affecting  an  indifference  he  was  far  from  feel 
ing,  the  young  man  strolled  about  the  area  until  he  had 
ascertained  that  the  canoe  had  been  removed,  and  that  he 
was  a  prisoner  on  the  narrow  tongue  of  land,  vigilantly 
watched  beyond  a  question,  and  with  no  other  means  of 
escape  than  that  of  swimming.  He  again  thought  of  this 
last  expedient,  but  the  certainty  that  the  canoe  would  be 
sent  in  chase,  and  the  desperate  nature  of  the  chances  of 
success,  deterred  him  from  the  undertaking.  He  gazed 
wistfully  towards  the  castle  —  but  there  all  seemed  to  be 
silent  and  desolate  ;  and  a  feeling  of  loneliness  and  de 
sertion  came  over  him  to  increase  the  gloom  of  the 
moment. 

"  God's  will  be  done !  "  murmured  the  young  man,  as 
he  walked  sorrowfully  away  from  the  beach,  entering  again 
beneath  the  arches  of  the  wood  ;  "  God's  will  be  done  on 
'arth  as  it  is  in  heaven  !  I  did  hope  that  my  days  would 
not  be  numbered  so  soon  !  but  it  matters  little,  a'ter  all. 
A  few  more  winters  and  a  few  more  summers,  and  't  would 
have  been  over  accordin'  to  natur'.  Ah  's  me  !  the  young 
and  actyve  seldom  think  death  possible,  till  he  grins  in 
their  faces  and  tells  'em  the  hour  is  come !  " 

For  half  an  hour  or  more  the  young  man  was  left  alone, 
and  unbroken  stillness  prevailed.  Then  the  stirring  of 
leaves  and  the  cracking  of  twigs  apprised  Deerslayer  of 
the  approach  of  his  enemies.  The  Hurons  closed  in  a 
circle  around  the  spot  where  the  prisoner  stood,  Rivenoak 
occupying  alone  the  place  of  authority,  now  that  the 
Panther  had  fallen. 

When  the  whole  band  was  arrayed  around  the  captive, 
a  grave  silence,  so  much  the  more  threatening  from  its 


THE  DELIVERANCE  337 

profound  quiet,  pervaded  the  place.  Deerslayer  perceived 
that  the  women  and  boys  had  been  preparing  splinters  of 
the  fat  pine  roots,  which  he  well  knew  were  to  be  stuck 
into  his  flesh  and  set  in  flames,  while  two  or  three  of  the 
young  men  held  the  thongs  of  bark  with  which  he  was  to  be 
bound.  The  smoke  of  a  distant  fire  announced  that  the 
burning  brands  were  in  preparation,  and  several  of  the 
elder  warriors  passed  their  fingers  over  the  edges  of  their 
tomahawks,  as  if  to  prove  their  keenness  and  temper.  Even 
the  knives  seemed  loosened  in  their  sheaths,  impatient 
for  the  bloody  and  merciless  work  to  begin. 

"  Killer  of  the  Deer,"  recommenced  Rivenoak,  certainly 
without  any  signs  of  sympathy  or  pity  in  his  manner, 
though  with  calmness  and  dignity,  "  Killer  of  the  Deer, 
it  is  time  that  my  people  knew  their  minds.  The  sun  is 
no  longer  over  our  heads  ;  tired  of  waiting  on  the  Hurons, 
he  has  begun  to  fall  near  the  pines  on  this  side  of  the  val 
ley.  He  is  traveling  fast  towards  the  country  of  our  French 
fathers  ;  it  is  to  warn  his  children  that  their  lodges  are 
empty  and  that  they  ought  to  be  at  home.  The  roaming 
wolf  has  his  den,  and  he  goes  to  it  when  he  wishes  to  see 
his  young.  The  Iroquois  are  not  poorer  than  the  wolves. 
They  have  villages,  and  wigwams,  and  fields  of  corn  ;  the 
good  spirits  will  be  tired  of  watching  them  alone.  My  peo 
ple  must  go  back  and  see  to  their  own  business.  There 
will  be  joy  in  the  lodges  when  they  hear  our  whoop  from 
the  forest !  It  will  be  a  sorrowful  whoop  ;  when  it  is  un 
derstood,  grief  will  come  after  it.  There  will  be  one  scalp- 
whoop,  but  there  will  be  only  one.  We  have  the  fur  of 
the  Muskrat ;  his  body  is  among  the  fishes.  Deerslayer 
must  say  whether  another  scalp  shall  be  on  our  pole.  Two 


338  THE  DEERSLAYER 

lodges  are  empty  ;  a  scalp,  living  or  dead,  is  wanted  at 
each  door." 

"Then  take  'em  dead,  Huron,"  firmly,  but  altogether 
without  dramatic  boasting,  returned  the  captive.  "  My  hour 
is  come,  I  do  suppose ;  and  what  must  be,  must.  If  you 
are  bent  on  the  tortur',  I  '11  do  my  indivors  to  bear  up 
agin  it,  though  no  man  can  say  how  far  his  natur'  will 
stand  pain,  until  he  's  been  tried." 

"  The  paleface  cur  begins  to  put  his  tail  between  his 
legs  !  "  cried  a  young  and  garrulous  savage,  who  bore  the 
title  of  the  Red  Crow  ;  "  he  is  no  warrior  ;  when  the  Hu 
ron  women  begin  to  torment  him,  he  will  cry  like  the 
young  of  the  catamount.  He  is  a  Delaware  woman  dressed 
in  the  skin  of  a  Yengeese  !  " 

"Have  your  say,  young  man  —  have  your  say,"  re 
turned  Deerslayer,  unmoved  ;  "you  know  no  better,  and  I 
can  overlook  it.  Talking  may  aggravate  women,  but  can 
hardly  make  knives  sharper,  fire  hotter,  or  rifles  more 
sartain." 

Rivenoak  now  interfered,  reproving  the  Red  Crow  for 
his  premature  interference,  and  then  directing  the  proper 
persons  to  bind  the  captive.  This  expedient  was  adopted, 
not  from  any  apprehensions  that  he  would  escape,  but  from 
an  ingenious  design  of  making  him  feel  his  helplessness, 
*and  of  gradually  sapping  his  resolution  by  undermining 
it,  as  it  might  be,  little  by  little.  Deerslayer  offered  no 
resistance.  He  submitted  his  arms  and  legs  readily  to 
the  ligaments  of  bark,  which  were  bound  around  them. 
As  soon  as  the  body  of  Deerslayer  was  withed  in  bark 
sufficiently  to  create  a  lively  sense  of  helplessness,  he  was 
carried  to  a  young  tree,  and  bound  against  it  in  a  way 


THE  DELIVERANCE  339 

that  effectually  prevented  him  from  moving  as  well  as 
from  falling.  The  hands  were  laid  flat  against  the  legs, 
and  thongs  were  passed  over  all,  in  a  way  nearly  to  in 
corporate  the  prisoner  with  the  tree.  His  cap  was  then 
removed,  and  he  was  left  half-standing,  half-sustained  by 
his  bonds,  to  face  the  coming  scene  in  the  best  manner 
he  could. 

Previously  to  proceeding  to  anything  like  extremities, 
it  was  the  wish  of  Rivenoak  to  put  his  captive's  resolution 
to  the  proof,  by  renewing  the  attempt  at  a  compromise. 
In  conformity  with  this  scheme  the  Sumach  had  been  se 
cretly  advised  to  advance  into  the  'circle  and  to  make  her 
appeal  to  the  prisoner's  sense  of  justice  before  the  band 
had  recourse  to  the  last  experiment.  The  woman,  nothing 
loath,  consented  ;  for  there  was  some  attraction  in  becoming 
the  wife  of  a  noted  hunter.  As  the  duties  of  a  mother  were 
thought  to  be  paramount  to  all  other  considerations,  she 
led  by  the  hand  her  children,  whose  presence  should 
emphasize  her  position. 

"  You  see  me  before  you,  cruel  paleface,"  the  woman 
commenced  ;  "  your  spirit  must  tell  you  my  errand.  I 
have  found  you  ;  I  cannot  find  Le  Loup  Cervier,  nor  the 
Panther  ;  I  have  looked  for  them  in  the  lake,  in  the 
woods,  in  the  clouds.  I  cannot  say  where  they  have  gone. 
Cruel  paleface,  what  had  my  warriors  done  that  you  should 
slay  them  ?  They  were  the  best  hunters  and  the  boldest 
young  men  of  their  tribe  ;  the  Great  Spirit  intended  that 
they  should  live  until  they  withered  like  the  branches  of 
the  hemlock,  and  fell  of  their  own  weight." 

"Nay,  nay,  good  Sumach,"  interrupted  Deerslayer, 
"  this  is  a  little  outdoing  redskin  privileges.  Young  man 


340  THE  DEERSLAYER 

was  neither,  any  more  than  you  can  be  called  a  young 
woman  ;  and  as  to  the  Great  Spirit's  intending  that  they 
should  fall  otherwise  than  they  did,  that 's  a  grievous  mis 
take,  inasmuch  as  what  the  Great  Spirit  intends  is  sartain 
to  come  to  pass.  Then,  agin,  it 's  plain  enough  that 
though  neither  of  your  warriors  did  me  any  harm,  I  raised 
my  hand  against  them  on  account  of  what  they  were  striv 
ing  to  do,  which  amounts  to  the  same  thing." 

"It  is  so.  Sumach  has  but  one  tongue ;  she  can  tell 
but  one  story.  The  paleface  struck  the  Hurons,  lest  the 
Hurons  should  strike  him.  The  Hurons  are  a  just  nation  ; 
they  will  forget  it.  The  chiefs  will  shut  their  eyes,  and 
pretend  not  to  have  seen  it.  The  young  men  will  believe 
the  Panther  and  the  Lynx  have  gone  to  far-off  hunts  ;  and 
the  Sumach  will  take  her  children  by  the  hand,  and  go  in 
to  the  lodge  of  the  paleface,  and  say,  '  See  !  these  are  your 
children  —  they  are  also  mine ;  feed  us,  and  we  will  live 
with  you.'  ' 

"The  tarms  are  onadmissible,  woman;  and  though  I 
feel  for  your  losses,  which  must  be  hard  to  bear,  the  tarms 
cannot  be  accepted.  As  to  givin'  you  ven'son,  in  case  we 
lived  near  enough  together,  that  would  be  no  great  explite  ; 
but  as  for  becomin'  your  husband,  and  the  father  of  your 
children,  to  be  honest  with  you,  I  feel  no  callin'  that-a- 
way." 

"  Look  at  this  boy,  cruel  paleface  ;  he  has  no  father  to 
teach  him  to  kill  the  deer,  or  to  take  scalps.  See  this 
girl ;  what  young  man  will  come  to  look  for  a  wife  in  a 
lodge  that  has  no  head  ?  There  are  more  among  my  people 
in  the  Canadas,  and  the  Killer  of  Deer  will  find  as  many 
mouths  to  feed  as  his  heart  can  wish  for." 


THE  DELIVERANCE  341 

"I  tell  you,  woman,"  exclaimed  Deerslayer,  "all  this 
is  nothing  to  me.  People  and  kindred  must  take  care  of 
their  own  fatherless,  leaving  them  that  have  no  children 
to  their  own  loneliness.  As  for  me,  I  have  no  offspring, 
and  I  want  no  wife.  Now,  go  away,  Sumach  ;  leave  me 
in  the  hands  of  your  chiefs  ;  for  my  color,  and  gifts,  and 
natur'  itself,  cry  out  agin  the  idee  of  taking  you  for  a 
wife." 

It  is  unnecessary  to  expatiate  on  the  effect  of  this  down 
right  refusal  of  the  woman's  proposals.  Fury,  rage,  mor 
tified  pride,  and  a  volcano  of  wrath,  burst  out  at  one  ex 
plosion,  converting  her  into  a  sort  of  maniac,  as  it  might 
be  at  the  touch  of  a  magician's  wand.  Without  deigning 
a  reply  in  words,  she  made  the  arches  of  the  forest  ring 
with  screams,  and  then  flew  forward  at  her  victim,  seizing 
him  by  the  hair,  which  she  appeared  resolute  to  draw  out 
by  the  roots.  It  was  some  time  before  her  grasp  could  be 
loosened.  Fortunately  for  the  prisoner  her  rage  was  blind, 
since  his  total  helplessness  left  him  entirely  at  her  mercy. 
As  it  was,  she  did  succeed  in  wrenching  out  two  or  three 
handfuls  of  hair  before  the  young  men  could  tear  her1  away 
from  her  victim. 

The  insult  that  had  been  offered  to  the  Sumach  was 
deemed  an  insult  to  the  whole  tribe  ;  not  so  much,  how 
ever,  on  account  of  any  respect  that  was  felt  for  the  woman 
as  on  account  of  the  honor  of  the  Huron  nation.  The 
young  men  showed  an  impatience  to  begin  the  torture, 
and  Rivenoak  gave  the  signal  for  the  infernal  work  to 
begin. 


342  THE  DEERSLAYER 

CHAPTER  III 

No  sooner  did  the  young  men  understand  that  they 
were  at  liberty  to  commence,  than  some  of  the  boldest  and 
most  forward  among  them  sprang  into  the  arena,  toma 
hawk  in  hand.  Here  they  prepared  to  throw  that  danger 
ous  weapon,  the  object  being  to  strike  the  tree  as  near 
as  possible  to  the  victim's  head  without  absolutely  hitting 
him.  This  was  so  hazardous  an  experiment  that  none  but 
those  who  were  known  to  be  exceedingly  expert  with  the 
weapon  were  allowed  to  enter  the  lists  at  all,  lest  an  early 
death  might  interfere  with  the  expected  entertainment. 
|  The  first  youth  who  presented  himself  for  the  trial  was 
icalled  the  Raven.  After  a  suitable  number  of  flourishes 
and  gesticulations  the  Raven  let  the  tomahawk  quit  his 
1  hand.  The  weapon  whirled  through  the  air,  with  the  usual 
evolutions,  cut  a  chip  from  the  sapling  to  which  the  pris 
oner  was  bound,  within  a  few  inches  of  his  cheek,  and 
stuck  in  a  large  oak  that  grew  several  yards  behind  him. 
This  was  decidedly  a  bad  effort,  and  a  common  sneer  pro 
claimed  as  much,  to  the  great  mortification  of  the  young 
man.  On  the  other  hand,  there  was  a  general  but  sup 
pressed  murmur  of  admiration  at  the  steadiness  with  which 
the  captive  stood  the  trial.  The  head  was  the  only  part  he 
could  move,  and  this  had  been  purposely  left  free,  that  the 
tormentors  might  have  the  amusement,  and  the  tormented 
endure  the  shame,  of  dodging,  and  otherwise  attempting 
to  avoid  the  blows.  Deerslayer  disappointed  these  hopes, 
by  a  command  of  nerve  that  rendered  his  whole  body  as 
immovable  as  the  tree  to  which  he  was  bound.  Nor  did  he 
even  adopt  the  natural  and  usual  expedient  of  shutting  his 


THE  DELIVERANCE  343 

eyes,  —  the  firmest  and  oldest  warrior  of  the  red-men 
never  having  more  disdainfully  denied  himself  this  ad 
vantage,  under  similar  circumstances. 

The  Raven  had  no  sooner  made  his  unsuccessful  and 
puerile  effort  than  he  was  succeeded  by  the  Moose,  a 
middle-aged  warrior.  He  took  his  stand  quietly,  but  with 
an  air  of  confidence,  poised  his  little  axe  but  a  single 
instant,  advanced  a  foot  with  a  quick  motion,  and  threw. 
Deerslayer  saw  the  keen  instrument  whirling  towards  him, 
and  believed  all  was  over  ;  still  he  was  not  touched.  The 
tomahawk  had  actually  bound  the  head  of  the  captive  to 
the  tree,  by  carrying  before  it  some  of  his  hair ;  having 
buried  itself  deep  beneath  the  soft  bark.  A  general  yell 
expressed  the  delight  of  the  spectators,  and  the  Moose  felt 
his  heart  soften  a  little  towards  the  prisoner,  whose  steadi 
ness  of  nerve  alone  enabled  him  to  give  this  evidence  of 
his  consummate  skill. 

The  Moose  was  succeeded  by  the  Bounding  Boy,  as 
one  of  the  youths  was  always  called  because  of  his  antics. 
He  skipped  about  in  front  of  the  captive,  menacing  him 
with  his  tomahawk,  now  on  one  side  and  now  on  another 
and  then  again  in  front,  in  the  vain  hope  of  being  able  to 
extort  some  sign  of  fear  by  this  parade  of  danger.  At 
length  Deerslayer 's  patience  became  exhausted,  and  he  spoke 
for  the  first  time  since  the  trial  had  actually  commenced. 

"  Throw  away,  Huron  !  "  he  cried,  "  or  your  tomahawk 
will  forget  its  arr'nd.  Why  do  you  keep  loping  about  like 
a  faan  that 's  showing  its  dam  how  well  it  can  skip,  when 
you  're  a  warrior  grown,  yourself,  and  a  warrior  grown 
defies  you  and  all  your  silly  antics  ?  Throw,  or  the  Huron 
gals  will  laugh  in  your  face." 


344  THE  DEERSLAYER 

The  last  words  aroused  the  "  Bounding  "  warrior  to  fury. 
The  same  nervous  excitability  which  rendered  him  so  ac 
tive  in  his  person  made  it  difficult  to  repress  his  feelings, 
and  the  words  were  scarcely  past  the  lips  of  the  speaker 
than  the  tomahawk  left  the  hand  of  the  Indian.  Nor  was 
it  cast  without  good-will,  and  a  fierce  determination  to  slay. 
Had  the  intention  been  less  deadly,  the  danger  might  have 
been  greater.  The  aim  was  uncertain,  and  the  weapon 
glanced  near  the  cheek  of  the  captive,  slightly  cutting  the 
shoulder  in  its  evolutions.  This  was  the  first  instance  in 
which  any  other  object  than  that  of  terrifying  the  prisoner 
and  of  displaying  skill  had  been  manifested ;  and  the 
Bounding  Boy  was  immediately  led  from  the  arena,  and 
was  warmly  rebuked  for  his  intemperate  haste,  which  had 
come  so  near  defeating  all  the  hopes  of  the  band. 

To  this  irritable  person  succeeded  several  other  young 
warriors,  who  not  only  hurled  the  tomahawk,  but  who  cast 
the  knife  —  a  far  more  dangerous  experiment  —  with  reck 
less  indifference ;  yet  they  always  manifested  a  skill  that 
prevented  any  injury  to  the  captive.  Several  times  Deer- 
slayer  was  grazed,  but  in  no  instance  did  he  receive  what 
might  be  termed  a  wound.  The  unflinching  firmness  with 
which  he  faced  his  assailants,  more  especially  in  the  sort 
of  rally  with  which  this  trial  terminated,  excited  a  pro 
found  respect  in  the  spectators ;  and  when  the  chiefs  an 
nounced  that  the  prisoner  had  well  withstood  the  trials  of 
the  knife  and  the  tomahawk,  there  was  not  a  single  indi 
vidual  in  the  band  who  really  felt  any  hostility  towards  him, 
with  the  exception  of  Sumach  arid  the  Bounding  Boy. 

Rivenoak,  who  still  cherished  a  hope  that  the  celebrated 
hunter  might  be  saved  to  become  a  member  of  the  tribe, 


THE  DELIVERANCE  345 

now  told  his  people  that  the  paleface  had  proved  himself  a 
man,  and  wished  to  know  whether  it  was  the  desire  of  the 
Hurons  to  proceed  any  further.  Even  the  gentlest  of  the 
females,  however,  had  received  too  much  satisfaction  in 
the  late  trials  to  forego  their  expectations  of  a  gratifying 
exhibition ;  and  there  was  but  one  voice  in  the  request  to 
proceed.  The  chief  therefore  called  four  or  five  of  the  best 
marksmen  to  him  and  bid  them  put  the  captive  to  the 
proof  of  the  rifle,  while,  at  the  same  time,  he  cautioned 
them  touching  the  necessity  of  their  maintaining  their  own 
credit,  by  the  closest  attention  to  the  manner  of  exhibiting 
their  skill. 

When  Deerslayer  saw  the  chosen  warriors  step  into  the 
circle,  with  their  arms  prepared  for  service,  he  felt  some 
such  relief  as  the  miserable  sufferer  who  has  long  endured 
the  agonies  of  disease  feels  at  the  certain  approach  of 
death.  Any  trifling  variance  in  the  aim  of  this  formidable 
weapon  would  prove  fatal ;  since,  the  head  being  the 
target,  or  rather  the  point  it  was  desired  to  graze  without 
injury,  an  inch  or  two  of  difference  in  the  line  of  projection 
must  at  once  determine  the  question  of  life  or  death.  He 
now  fully  expected  the  end  of  his  career,  and  experienced 
a  sort  of  melancholy  pleasure  in  the  idea  that  he  was  to 
fall  by  a  weapon  as  much  beloved  as  the  rifle.  A  slight 
interruption,  however,  took  place  before  the  business  was 
allowed  to  proceed. 

Hetty  H utter,  who,  the  reader  will  remember,  had  come 
ashore  with  Deerslayer,  and  had  since  that  time  been  in 
her  accustomed  place  with  the  females  of  the  party,  had 
been  a  puzzled  spectator  of  all  that  had  passed.  The  pres 
ent  scene  at  first  had  pressed  upon  her  feeble  mind  in  a 


346  THE  DEERSLAYER 

way  to  paralyze  it  entirely  ;  but  by  this  time  she  had  rallied, 
and  was  growing  indignant  at  the  unmerited  suffering  the 
Indians  were  inflicting  on  her  friend.  She  now  appeared 
in  the  circle  and  spoke  earnestly. 

"Why  do  you  torment  Deerslayer,  red-men?"  she 
asked.  "  Suppose  one  of  your  knives  or  tomahawks  had 
hit  him ;  what  Indian  among  you  could  cure  the  wound 
you  would  make  ? ' ' 

The  Hurons  listened  with  grave  attention,  and  when  the 
speech  had  been  interpreted  to  them,  Rivenoak  answered 
her. 

"  My  daughter  is  very  welcome  to  speak,"  said  the  stern 
old  orator,  using  gentle  intonations,  and  smiling  as  kindly 
as  if  addressing  a  child  ;  "  the  Hurons  are  glad  to  hear  her 
voice  ;  they  listen  to  what  she  says.  But  this  time  her  eyes 
have  not  been  open  wide  enough  to  see  all  that  has  hap 
pened.  Two  of  my  warriors  have  fallen  by  the  blows  of  our 
prisoner ;  their  grave  is  too  small  to  hold  a  third.  The 
Hurons  do  not  like  to  crowd  their  dead.  If  there  is  another 
spirit  about  to  set  out  for  the  far-off  world,  it  must  not  be 
the  spirit  of  a  Huron  ;  it  must  be  the  spirit  of  a  paleface. 
Go,  daughter,  and  sit  by  Sumach,  who  is  in  grief :  let  the 
Huron  warriors  show  how  well  they  can  shoot ;  let  the 
paleface  show  how  little  he  cares  for  their  bullets." 

Hetty's  mind  was  unequal  to  a  sustained  discussion, 
and,  accustomed  to  defer  to  the  directions  of  her  seniors, 
she  did  as  told,  seating  herself  passively  on  a  log  by  the  side 
of  the  Sumach  and  averting  her  face  from  the  painful 
scene  that  was  occurring  within  the  circle. 

The  warriors,  as  soon  as  this  interruption  had  ceased, 
resumed  their  places,  and  again  prepared  to  exhibit  their 


THE  DELIVERANCE  347 

skill.  This  time  the  marksmen  stood  several  yards  nearer 
their  victim.  In  diminishing  the  distance  taken  by  the 
tormentors,  the  trial  to  the  nerves  of  the  captive  was  essen 
tially  increased.  The  face  of  Deerslayer,  indeed,  was  just 
removed  sufficiently  from  the  ends  of  the  guns  to  escape 
the  effects  of  the  flash,  and  his  steady  eye  was  enabled  to 
look  directly  into  their  muzzles,  as  it  might  be  in  anticipa 
tion  of  the  fatal  messenger  that  was  to  issue  from  each. 
The  cunning  Hurons  well  knew  this  fact ;  and  scarce  one 
leveled  his  piece  without  first  causing  it  to  point  as  near 
as  possible  at  the  forehead  of  the  prisoner,  in  the  hope  that 
his  fortitude  would  fail  him,  and  that  the  band  would  en 
joy  the  triumph  of  seeing  a  victim  quail  under  their  ingen 
ious  cruelty.  Nevertheless,  each  of  the  competitors  was 
still  careful  not  to  injure  ;  the  disgrace  of  striking  prema 
turely  being  second  only  to  that  of  failing  altogether  in 
attaining  the  object.  Shot  after  shot  was  made ;  all  the 
bullets  coming  in  close  proximity  to  the  Deerslayer's  head 
without  touching  it.  Still,  no  one  could  detect  even  the 
twitching  of  a  muscle  on  the  part  of  the  captive  or  the 
slightest  winking  of  an  eye.  This  indomitable  resolution, 
which  so  much  exceeded  everything  of  its  kind  that  any 
present  had  before  witnessed,  might  be  referred  to  three 
distinct  causes.  The  first  was  resignation  to  his  fate, 
blended  with  natural  steadiness  of  deportment ;  for  our 
hero  had  calmly  made  up  his  mind*that  he  must  die  and 
preferred  this  mode  to  any  other ;  the  second  was  his 
great  familiarity  with  this  particular  weapon,  which  de 
prived  it  of  all  the  terror  that  is  usually  connected  with 
the  mere  form  of  the  danger ;  and  the  third  was  this 
familiarity  carried  out  in  practice,  to  a  degree  so  nice  as  to 


348  THE  DEERSLAYER 

enable  the  intended  victim  to  tell,  within  an  inch,  the  pre 
cise  spot  where  each  bullet  must  strike,  for  he  calculated 
its  range  by  looking  in  at  the  bore  of  the  piece.  So  ex*act 
was  Deerslayer's  estimation  of  the  line  of  fire,  that  his 
pride  of  feeling  finally  got  the  better  of  his  resignation, 
and,  when  five  or  six  had  discharged  their  bullets  into  the 
trees,  he  could  not  refrain  from  expressing  his  contempt 
at  their  want  of  hand  and  eye. 

"You  may  call  this  shooting,  Mingos,"  he  exclaimed, 
"  but  we  've  squaws  among  the  Delawares,  and  I  have 
known  Dutch  gals  on  the  Mohawk,  that  could  outdo  your 
greatest  indivors.  Ondo  these  arms  of  mine,  put  a  rifle 
into  my  hands,  and  I  '11  pin  the  thinnest  warlock  in  your 
party  to  any  tree  you  can  show  me  ;  and  this  at  a  hundred 
yards,  — aye,  or  at  two  hundred,  if  the  object  can  be  seen, 
nineteen  shots  in  twenty :  or,  for  that  matter,  twenty  in 
twenty,  if  the  piece  is  creditable  and  trusty  !  " 

A  low,  menacing  murmur  followed  this  cool  taunt ;  the 
ire  of  the  warriors  kindled  at  listening  to  such  a  reproach 
from  one  who  so  far  disdained  their  efforts  as  to  refuse 
even  to  wink  when  a  rifle  was  discharged  as  near  his  face 
as  could  be  done  without  burning  it.  Rivenoak  perceived 
that  the  moment  was  critical,  and,  still  retaining  his  hope 
of  adopting  so  noted  a  hunter  into  his  tribe,  the  politic  old 
chief  interposed  in  time,  probably,  to  prevent  an  immedi 
ate  resort  to  that  portion  of  the  torture  which  must  neces 
sarily  have  produced  death,  through  extreme  bodily  suffer 
ing,  if  in  no  other  manner.  Moving  into  the  centre  of  the 
irritated  group,  he  addressed  them  with  his  usual  wily 
logic  and  plausible  manner,  at  once  suppressing  the  fierce 
movement  that  had  commenced. 


THE  DELIVERANCE  349 

"  I  see  how  it  is,"  he  said.  "  We  have  been  like  the 
palefaces  when  they  fasten  their  doors  at  night,  out  of  fear 
of  the  red-man.  They  use  so  many  bars,  that  the  fire 
comes  and  burns  them  before  they  can  get  out.  We  have 
bound  the  Deerslayer  too  tight ;  the  thongs  keep  his  limbs 
from  shaking,  and  his  eyes  from  shutting.  Loosen  him  ; 
let  us  see  what  his  own  body  is  really  made  of." 

The  proposal  of  the  chief  found  instant  favor  ;  and  sev 
eral  hands  were  immediately  at  work  cutting  and  tearing 
the  ropes  of  bark  from  the  body  of  our  hero.  In  half  a 
minute  Deerslayer  stood  as  free  from  bonds  as  when,  an 
hour  before,  he  had  commenced  his  flight  on  the  side  of 
the  mountain.  Some  little  time  was  necessary  that  he 
should  recover  the  use  of  his  limbs,  the  circulation  of  the 
blood  having  been  checked  by  the  tightness  of  the  liga 
tures  ;  and  this  was  accorded  to  him.  It  is  seldom  men 
think  of  death  in  the  pride  of  their  health  and  strength. 
So  it  was  with  Deerslayer.  Having  been  helplessly  bound, 
and,  as  he  had  every  reason  to  suppose,  so  lately  on  the 
very  verge  of  the  other  world,  to  find  himself  so  unexpect 
edly  liberated,  in  possession  of  his  strength,  and  with  a 
full  command  of  limb,  acted  on  him  like  a  sudden  resto 
ration  to  life,  reanimating  hopes  that  he  had  once  abso 
lutely  abandoned.  From  that  instant  all  his  plans  changed. 
In  this  he  simply  obeyed  a  law  of  nature ;  for  while  we 
have  wished  to  represent  our  hero  as  being  resigned  to  his 
fate,  it  has  been  far  from  our  intention  to  represent  him  as 
anxious  to  die.  From  the  instant  that  his  buoyancy  of  feel 
ing  revived,  his  thoughts  were  keenly  bent  on  the  various 
projects  that  presented  themselves  as  modes  of  evading 
the  designs  of  his  enemies;  and  he  again  became  the 


350  THE  DEERSLAYER 

quick-witted,  ingenious,  and  determined  woodsman,  alive 
to  all  his  own  powers  and  resources. 

The  warriors  were  meanwhile  making  preparations  for 
the  commencement  of  the  real  tortures,  or  that  which  would 
put  the  fortitude  of  the  sufferer  to  the  test  of  severe  bod 
ily  pain,  when  a  sudden  and  unlooked-for  announcement 
that  proceeded  from  one  of  the  lookouts,  a  boy  ten  or  twelve 
years  old,  put  a  momentary  check  to  the  whole  proceedings. 

CHAPTER   IV 

It  required  but  a  minute  or  two  to  bring  an  explanation 
of  the  singular  and  mysterious  pause,  caused  by  the  com 
ing  in  of  the  lookout,  for  it  was  soon  terminated  by  the 
appearance  of  Judith.  If  Deerslayer  was  startled  by  this 
unexpected  arrival,  well  knowing  that  the  quick-witted  girl 
could  claim  none  of  that  exemption  -from  the  penalties  of 
captivity  that  was  so  cheerfully  accorded  to  her  feeble 
minded  sister,  he  was  equally  astonished  at  the  guise  in 
which  she  came.  All  her  ordinary  forest  attire,  neat  and 
becoming  as  this  usually  was,  had  been  laid  aside  for  the 
brocade  which  had  been  found  at  the  opening  of  the  chest. 
Accustomed  to  see  the  ladies  of  the  garrison  in  the  formal 
gala  attire  of  the  day,  and  familiar  with  the  more  critical 
niceties  of  these  matters,  the  girl  had  managed  to  complete 
her  dress  in  a  way  to  leave  nothing  strikingly  defective  in 
its  details.  Nor  was  this  all.  Judith,  in  addition  to  her 
rare  beauty,  had  a  singular  grace  of  person,  which  enabled 
her  to  carry  herself  with  a  dignity  of  bearing  that  accorded 
well  with  her  costume. 

The  effect  of  such  an  apparition  had  not  been  miscal 
culated.  The  instant  Judith  found  herself  within  the  circle, 


THE  DELIVERANCE  351 

she  was,  in  a  degree,  compensated  for  the  fearful  personal 
risk  she  ran,  by  the  unequivocal  sensation  of  surprise  and 
admiration  produced  by  her  appearance.  The  grim  old 
warriors  uttered  their  favorite  exclamation,  "  Hugh  !  "  The 
younger  men  were  still  more  sensibly  overcome,  and  even 
the  women  were  not  backward  in  letting  open  manifesta 
tions  of  pleasure  escape  them.  It  was  seldom  that  these 
untutored  children  of  the  forest  had  ever  seen  any  white 
female  above  the  commonest  sort,  and  as  to  dress,  never 
before  had  so  much  splendor  shone  before  their  eyes.  The 
gayest  uniforms  of  both  French  and  English  seemed  dull 
compared  with  the  lustre  of  the  brocade ;  and  while  the 
rare  personal  beauty  of  the  wearer  added  to  the  effect  pro 
duced  by  its  hues,  the  attire  did  not  fail  to  adorn  that 
beauty  in  a  way  which  surpassed  even  the  hopes  of  its 
wearer.  Deerslayer  himself  was  astounded,  and  this  quite 
as  much  by  the  brilliant  picture  the  girl  presented,  as  at 
the  indifference  to  consequences  with  which  she  had 
braved  the  danger  of  the  step  she  had  taken. 

The  quick  eye  of  Judith  at  once  detected,  by  Rivenoak's 
position  in  the  circle  and  his  bearing,  that  he  was  the  chief, 
and  striving  to  impart  to  her  manner  an  air  of  condescend 
ing  courtesy  she  approached  him,  saying, 

"  This  is  the  principal  person  of  the  party  ?  It  is  to  you, 
then,  I  must  make  my  communication." 

"  Let  the  Flower  of  the  Woods  speak,"  returned  the  old 
chief,  courteously,  as  soon  as  her  address  had  been  trans 
lated  so  that  all  might  understand  it.  "  If  her  words  are 
as  pleasant  as  her  looks,  they  will  never  quit  my  ears  ;  I 
shall  hear  them  long  after  the  winter  in  Canada  has  killed 
the  flowers,  and  frozen  all  the  speeches  of  summer." 


352  THE  DEERSLAYER 

"Now,  Huron,"  she  continued,  "listen  to  my  words. 
Your  eyes  tell  you  that  I  am  no  common  woman.  I  will 
not  say  I  am  queen  of  this  country ;  she  is  afar  off,  in  a 
distant  land  ;  but  under  our  gracious  monarchs  there  are 
many  degrees  of  rank  ;  one  of  these  I  fill.  What  that  rank 
is  precisely  it  is  unnecessary  for  me  to  say,  since  you  would 
not  understand  it.  For  that  information  you  must  trust 
your  eyes.  You  see  what  I  am  ;  you  must  feel  that  in 
listening  to  my  words,  you  listen  to  one  who  can  be  your 
friend  or  your  enemy,  as  you  treat  her." 

"  My  daughter  is  handsomer  than  the  wild  roses  of 
Ontario  ;  her  voice  is  pleasant  to  the  ear  as  the  song  of 
the  wren, ' '  answered  the  cautious  and  wily  chief,  who  of  all 
the  band  stood  alone  in  not  being  fully  imposed  on  by 
the  magnificent  and  unusual  appearance  of  Judith  ;  but 
who  distrusted  even  while  he  wondered  ;  "  the  humming 
bird  is  not  much  larger  than  the  bee  ;  yet  its  feathers  are 
as  gay  as  the  tail  of  the  peacock.  The  Great  Spirit  some 
times  puts  very  bright  clothes  on  very  little  animals.  Still, 
he  covers  the  moose  with  coarse  hair.  These  things  are 
beyond  the  understanding  of  poor  Indians,  who  can  only 
comprehend  what  they  see  and  hear.  No  doubt  my  daugh 
ter  has  a  very  large  wigwam  somewhere  about  the  lake  ;  the 
Hurons  have  not  found  it  on  account  of  their  ignorance  ?  " 

"  I  have  told  you,  chief,  that  it  would  be  useless  to  state 
my  rank  and  residence,  inasmuch  as  you  would  not  com 
prehend  them.  You  must  trust  to  your  eyes  for  this 
knowledge  ;  what  red-man  is  there  that  cannot  see  ?  This 
blanket  that  I  wear  is  not  the  blanket  of  a  common  squaw  ; 
these  ornaments  are  such  as  the  wives  and  daughters  of 
chiefs  only  appear  in.  Now  listen  and  hear  why  I  have 


THE  DELIVERANCE  353 

come  alone  among  your  people,  and  hearken  to  the  errand 
that  has  brought  me  here.  The  Yengeese  have  young  men 
as  well  as  the  Hurons  ;  and  plenty  of  them,  too  ;  this  you 
well  know." 

"  The  Yengeese  are  as  plenty  as  the  leaves  on  the  trees  ! 
This  every  Huron  knows  and  feels." 

"  I  understand  you,  chief.  Had  I  brought  a  party  with 
me  it  might  have  caused  trouble.  My  young  men  and 
your  young  men  would  have  looked  angrily  at  each  other  ; 
especially  had  my  young  men  seen  that  paleface  bound  for 
the  tortures.  He  is  a  great  hunter,  and  is  much  loved  by 
all  the  garrisons,  far  and  near.  There  would  have  been 
blows  about  him,  and  the  trail  of  the  Iroquois  back  to  the 
Canadas  would  have  been  marked  with  blood." 

"  There  is  so  much  blood  on  it  now,"  returned  the  chief, 
gloomily,  "  that  it  blinds  our  eyes.  My  young  men  see 
that  it  is  all  Huron." 

"  No  doubt ;  and  more  Huron  blood  would  be  spilt,  had 
I  come  surrounded  with  palefaces.  I  have  heard  of  Riven- 
oak,  and  have  thought  it  would  be  better  to  send  him  back 
in  peace  to  his  village,  that  he  might  leave  his  women  and 
children  behind  him  ;  if  he  then  wished  to  come  for  our 
scalps,  we  would  meet  him.  But  I  will  lead  back  with  me 
this  great  hunter,  of  whom  I  have  need  to  keep  my  house 
in  venison." 

"  This  hunter  cannot  quit  my  young  men  now  ;  they 
wish  to  know  if  he  is  stout-hearted,"  returned  the  crafty 
chief.  "  I  hear  a  strange  bird  singing.  It  has  very  rich 
feathers.  No  Huron  ever  before  saw  such  feathers.  They 
will  be  ashamed  to  go  back  to  their  village  and  tell  their 
people  that  they  let  their  prisoner  go  on  account  of  the 


354  THE  DEERSLAYER 

song  of  this  strange  bird,  and  not  be  able  to  give  the  name 
of  the  bird.  They  do  not  know  how  to  say  whether  it  is  a 
wren  or  a  cat-bird.  This  would  be  a  great  disgrace  ;  my 
young  men  would  not  be  allowed  to  travel  in  the  woods, 
without  taking  their  mothers  with  them  to  tell  them  the 
names  of  the  birds." 

"  You  can  ask  my  name  of  your  prisoner,"  returned  the 
girl.  "It  is  Judith  ;  and  there  is  a  great  deal  of  the 
history  of  Judith  in  the  palefaces'  best  book,  the  Bible.  If 
I  am  a  bird  of  fine  feathers,  I  have  also  my  name." 

"  No,"  answered  the  wily  Huron,  betraying  the  artifice 
he  had  so  long  practiced,  by  speaking  in  English,  with 
tolerable  accuracy  ;  "I  not  ask  prisoner.  He  tired  ;  he 
want  rest.  I  ask  my  daughter,  with  feeble-mind.  She 
speak  truth.  Come  here,  daughter ;  you  answer.  Your 
name  Hetty?  " 

"Yes,  that's  what  they  call  me,"  returned  the  girl, 
"  though  it 's  written  Esther  in  the  Bible." 

"  He  write  him  in  Bible,  too  ?  All  write  in  Bible.  No 
matter  —  what  her  name  ?  " 

11  That 's  Judith,  and  it 's  so  written  in  the  Bible,  though 
father  sometimes  called  her  Jude.  That 's  my  sister  Ju 
dith,  Thomas  H  utter 's  daughter  —  Thomas  H  utter,  whom 
you  called  the  Muskrat ;  though  he  was  no  muskrat,  but  a 
man,  like  yourselves  —  he  lived  in  a  house  on  the  water, 
and  that  was  enough  i<yc  you" 

A  smile  of  triumph  gleamed  on  the  hard,  wrinkled 
countenance  of  the  chief,  when  he  found  how  completely 
his  appeal  to  the  truth-loving  Hetty  had  succeeded.  As 
for  Judith  herself,  the  moment  her  sister  was  questioned, 
she  saw  that  all  was  lost ;  for  no  sign,  or  even  treaty, 


THE  DELIVERANCE  355 

could  have  induced  the  right-feeling  girl  to  utter  a  false 
hood.  As  Judith  had  sat  in  the  castle  revolving  schemes 
by  which  she  might  aid  the  prisoner,  his  words  spoken 
when  he  first  saw  her  in  the  brocade,  that  he  knew  no  bet 
ter  way  to  treat  the  Mingos  than  to  send  her  ashore  and 
tell  them  a  queen  had  come,  had  flashed  into  her  mind, 
and  she  had  adopted  as  a  last  hope  this  bold  and  ingen 
ious  expedient.  Now  she  saw  her  plan  fail  through  the 
simplest  of  causes. 

"  It  will  not  do,"  said  Deerslayer,  sympathetically,  as 
she  turned  to  him  with  a  gesture  of  despair.  '  'T  was  a 
bold  idee,  and  fit  for  a  general's  lady  ;  but  yonder  Mingo  " 
—  Rivenoak  had  withdrawn  to  a  little  distance,  and  was 
out  of  ear-shot—  "but  yonder  Mingo  is  an  oncommon 
man,  and  not  to  be  deceived  by  any  unnat'ral  sarcumven- 
tions.  I  wish  you  were  safe  out  of  the  camp,  Judith, 
though  I  appreciate  your  generosity  in  running  such  a 
risk.  But  I  fear  for  you,  Judith.  I  fear  for  you." 

"  At  all  events  I  can  share  your  fate,  Deerslayer,"  re 
plied  the  girl,  earnestly,  "  and  perhaps  my  presence  here 
will  save  you  for  a  time." 

At  this  moment  the  consultation  of  the  Indians  broke 
up,  and  Rivenoak  faced  his  captive  again,  though  this  time 
with  an  altered  countenance.  He  had  abandoned  the  wish 
of  saving  him,  and  was  no  longer  disposed  to  retard  the 
more  serious  part  of  the  torture.  The  young  men  were 
already  making  preparations.  Fragments  of  dried  wood 
were  rapidly  collected  near  the  sapling,  the  splinters  which 
it  was  intended  to  thrust  into  the  flesh  of  the  victim,  previ 
ously  to  lighting,  were  all  collected,  and  warriors  advanced 
and  bound  him  to  the  tree. 


356  THE  DEERSLAYER 

It  was  not  the  intention  of  the  Huron s  absolutely  to 
destroy  the  life  of  their  victim  by  means  of  fire.  They 
designed  merely  to  put  his  physical  fortitude  to  the  sever 
est  proofs  it  could  endure,  short  of  that  extremity.  In  the 
end,  they  fully  intended  to  carry  his  scalp  with  them  into 
their  village,  but  it  was  their  wish  first  to  break  down  his 
resolution,  and  to  reduce  him  to  the  level  of  a  complain 
ing  sufferer. 

The  fire  was  lighted,  and  the  flames  began  to  wave 
their  forked  tongues  in  dangerous  proximity  to  the  victim 
when  a  young  Indian  came  bounding  through  the  Huron 
ranks,  leaping  into  the  very  centre  of  the  circle.  Three 
leaps  carried  the  warrior  to  the  side  of  Deerslayer,  and  it 
took  but  a  moment  for  him  to  scatter  the  burning  brands 
and  cut  the  withes  that  bound  him.  In  the  first  dash,  it 
had  been  impossible  to  tell  whether  the  new-comer  was 
friend  or  foe.  Now  he  turned  and  showed  the  astonished 
Hurons  the  noble  brow,  fine  person,  and  eagle  eye  of  a 
young  warrior,  in  the  paint  and  panoply  of  a  Delaware. 
He  held  a  rifle  in  each  hand,  the  butts  of  both  resting  on 
the  earth,  while  from  one  dangled  its  proper  pouch  and 
horn.  The  reader  will  have  already  surmised  that  the 
Delaware  was  Chingachgook,  and  that  the  second  weapon 
which  he  bore  was  Killdeer,  which  even  as  he  looked  boldly 
and  in  defiance  on  the  crowd  around  him,  he  suffered  to 
fall  back  into  the  hands  of  the  proper  owner.  The  pres 
ence  of  two  armed  men,  though  it  was  in  their  midst,  star 
tled  the  Hurons.  Their  rifles  were  scattered  about  against 
the  different  trees,  and  their  only  weapons  were  their  knives 
and  tomahawks.  The  rapidity  of  events  had  prevented 
the  Hurons  from  acting ;  but  in  a  twinkling  of  an  eye 


THE  DELIVERANCE  357 

the  whole  party  was  in  motion.  At  this  instant,  however, 
a  sound  unusual  to  the  woods  was  heard,  and  every  Hu 
ron,  male  and  female,  paused  to  listen,  with  ears  erect  and 
faces  filled  with  expectation.  The  sound  was  regular  and 
heavy,  as  if  the  earth  were  struck  with  blows.  Objects  be 
came  visible  among  the  trees  of  the  background,  and  a 
body  of  troops  was  seen  advancing  with  measured  tread. 
They  came  upon  the  charge,  the  scarlet  of  the  king's 
livery  shining  among  the  bright  green  foliage  of  the 
forest. 

The  scene  that  followed  is  not  easily  described.  It  was 
one  in  which  wild  confusion,  despair,  and  frenzied  efforts 
were  blended.  A  general  yell  burst  from  the  inclosed 
Hurons ;  it  was  succeeded  by  the  hearty  cheers  of  Eng 
land.  Still  not  a  musket  or  rifle  was  fired,  though  that 
steady,  measured  tramp  continued,  and  the  bayonet  was 
seen  gleaming  in  advance  of  a  line  that  counted  nearly 
sixty  men.  The  Hurons  were  taken  at  a  fearful  disadvan 
tage.  On  three  sides  was  the  water,  while  their  formida 
ble  and  trained  foes  cut  them  off  from  flight  on  the  fourth. 
Each  warrior  rushed  for  his  arms,  and  then  all  on  the 
point,  man,  woman,  and  child,  eagerly  sought  the  covers. 
In  this  scene  of  confusion  and  dismay,  however,  nothing 
could  surpass  the  discretion  and  coolness  of  Deerslayer. 
His  first  care  was  to  place  Judith  and  Hist,  who  had  fol 
lowed  her  lover  unnoticed  in  his  bold  entrance  to  the  camp, 
behind  trees,  and  he  looked  for  Hetty ;  but  she  had  been 
hurried  away  in  the  crowd  of  Huron  women.  This  ef 
fected,  he  threw  himself  on  a  flank  of  the  retiring  Hurons, 
who  were  inclining  off  towards  the  southern  margin  of  the 
point,  in  the  hope  of  escaping  through  the  water.  Still 


358  THE  DEERSLAYER 

the  troops  advanced  with  a  heavy,  measured,  and  menacing 
tread.  Presently  the  shrieks,  groans,  and  denunciations 
that  usually  accompany  the  use  of  the  bayonet,  followed. 
That  terrible  and  deadly  weapon  was  glutted  in  vengeance. 
The  scene  that  succeeded  was  one  of  those  of  which  so 
many  have  occurred  in  our  own  times,  in  which  neither 
age  nor  sex  forms  an  exemption  to  the  lot  of  a  savage 
warfare. 

CHAPTER  V 

Night  shortly  after  drew  its  veil  over  the  horrible  picture 
presented  in  our  last  chapter,  and  when  the  sun  rose  on 
the  following  morning,  every  sign  of  hostility  and  alarm 
had  vanished  from  the  basin  of  the  Glimmerglass.  The 
frightful  event  of  the  preceding  evening  had  left  no  im 
pression  on  the  placid  sheet.  The  birds  were  again  skim 
ming  the  water,  or  were  seen  poised  on  the  wing  high 
above  the  tops  of  the  tallest  pines  of  the  mountains.  In  a 
word,  nothing  was  changed  but  the  air  of  movement  and 
life  that  prevailed  in  and  around  the  castle.  A  sentinel, 
who  wore  the  light  infantry  uniform  of  a  royal  regiment, 
paced  the  platform  with  measured  tread,  and  some  twenty 
men  of  the  same  corps  lounged  about  the  place,  or  were 
seated  in  the  ark.  Their  arms  were  stacked  under  the  eye 
of  their  comrade  on  post.  Two  officers  stood  examining 
the  shore  with  the  ship's  glass  so  often  mentioned.  Their 
looks  were  directed  to  that  fatal  point  where  scarlet  coats 
were  still  to  be.  seen  gliding  among  the  trees,  and  where 
the  magnifying  power  of  the  instrument  also  showed 
spades  at  work  and  the  sad  duty  of  interment  going  on. 
Several  of  the  common  men  bore  proof  on  their  persons 


THE  DELIVERANCE  359 

that  their  enemies  had  not  been  overcome  entirely  without 
resistance  ;  and  the  youngest  of  the  two  officers  on  the 
platform  wore  an  arm  in  a  sling. 

At  a  little  distance  from  the  soldiers  Rivenoak  could 
be  seen,  seated  in  dignified  silence,  his  head  and  leg 
bound  in  such  a  manner  as  to  indicate  that  he  was  injured, 
but  betraying  no  visible  signs  of  despondency  or  despair. 
That  he  mourned  the  loss  of  his  tribe  is  certain  ;  still,  he 
did  it  in  a  manner  that  best  became  a  warrior  and  a  chief. 

But  our  interest  is  not  in  the  soldiers  or  even  in  the 
few  surviving  Indians,  but  rather  in  a  sad  scene  that  is 
taking  place  within  the  castle.  When  the  assault  was  over, 
poor  Hetty  had  been  found  among  the  wounded,  and  now 
she  lay  upon  her  own  simple  bed,  with  the  approaches  of 
death  plainly  visible  on  her  countenance.  Judith  and  Hist 
were  near  her,  the  former  seated  in  deep  grief,  the  latter 
standing,  in  readiness  to  offer  any  of  the  gentle  attentions 
of  feminine  care.  Deerslayer  stood  at  the  end  of  the  pal 
let,  leaning  on  Killdeer,  unharmed  in  person  ;  all  the  fine, 
martial  ardor  that  had  so  lately  glowed  in  his  countenance 
having  given  place  to  an  expression  of  manly  regret  and 
pity.  The  Serpent  was  in  the  background  of  the  picture, 
erect  and  motionless  as  a  statue  ;  and  Hurry  completed  the 
group,  being  seated  on  a  stool  near  the  door,  like  one  who 
felt  himself  out  of  place  in  such  a  scene,  but  who  was 
ashamed  to  quit  it  unbidden. 

An  officer  entered  the  room  for  a  moment. 

"  Who  is  that  in  scarlet  ?  "  asked  Hetty,  as  soon  as  the 
captain's  uniform  caught  her  eye.  "  Tell  me,  Judith,  is  it 
the  friend  of  Hurry  ?  " 

'T  is  the  officer  who  commands  the  troops  that  have 


360  THE  DEERSLAYER 

rescued  us  all  from  the  hands  of  the  Hurons,"  was  the 
low  answer  of  the  sister. 

"  Are  you  the  officer  that  came  with  Hurry  ?  "  Hetty 
asked.  "If  you  are,  we  ought  all  to  thank  you  ;  for  though 
I  am  hurt,  the  rest  have  saved  their  lives.  Did  Harry 
March  tell  you  where  to  find  us,  and  how  much  need  there 
was  for  your  services  ?  " 

"  The  news  of  the  party  reached  us  by  means  of  a 
friendly  runner,"  returned  the  captain ;  "  and  I  was  im 
mediately  sent  out  to  cut  it  off.  It  was  fortunate,  certainly, 
that  we  met  Hurry  Harry,  as  you  call  him,  for  he  acted  as 
a  guide  ;  and  it  was  not  less  fortunate  that  we  heard  a  fir 
ing,  which  I  now  understand  was  merely  a  shooting  at  the 
mark,  for  it  not  only  quickened  our  march,  but  called  us 
to  the  right  side  of  the  lake." 

Hetty's  mind  now  reverted  to  the  future. 

"We  shall  not  long  be  parted,  Judith,"  she  said; 
"  when  you  die,  you  must  be  brought  and  buried  in  the 
lake,  by  the  side  of  mother,  too." 

"  Would  to  God,  Hetty,  that  I  lay  there  at  this  mo 
ment  !  " 

"  No ;  that  cannot  be,  Judith  ;  people  must  die  before 
they  have  any  right  to  be  buried.  'T  would  be  wicked  to 
bury  you,  or  for  you  to  bury  yourself  while  living." 

Judith  hid  her  face  in  her  hands  and  groaned. 

"  Don't  grieve  for  me  so  much,  Judith,"  said  the  gentle 
sufferer,  after  a  pause  in  her  remarks  ;  "  I  shall  soon  see 
mother ;  I  think  I  see  her  now  ;  her  face  is  just  as  sweet 
and  smiling  as  it  used  to  be !  Perhaps  when  I  'm  dead, 
God  will  give  me  all  my  mind,  and  I  shall  become  a  more 
fitting  companion  for  mother  than  I  ever  was  before." 


THE  DELIVERANCE  361 

"  You  will  be  an  angel  in  heaven,  Hetty,"  sobbed  the 
sister;  "no  spirit  there  will  be  more  worthy  of  its  holy 
residence !  " 

"  I  don't  understand  it  quite  ;  still  I  know  it  must  be  all 
true  ;  I  've  read  it  in  the  Bible.  How  dark  it 's  becoming  ! 
Can  it  be  night  so  soon  ?  I  can  hardly  see  you  at  all ; 
where  is  Hist  ?  " 

"  I  here,  poor  girl ;  why  you  no  see  me  ?  " 

"  I  do  see  you  ;  but  I  could  n't  tell  whether  't  was  you  or 
Judith.  I  believe  I  shan't  see  you  much  longer,  Hist." 

"  Sorry  for  that,  poor  Hetty.  Never  mind  ;  paleface 
got  a  heaven  for  girl  as  well  as  for  warrior." 

"  Where  's  the  Serpent  ?  Let  me  speak  to  him  ;  give 
me  his  hand  ;  so  ;  I  feel  it.  Delaware,  you  will  love  and 
cherish  this  young  Indian  woman  ;  I  know  how  fond  she 
is  of  you  ;  and  you  must  be  fond  of  her.  Don't  treat  her  as 
some  people  treat  their  wives  ;  be  a  real  husband  to  her. 
Now  bring  Deerslayer  near  me  —  give  me  his  hand." 

This  request  was  complied  with,  and  the  hunter  stood 
by  the  side  of  the  pallet,  submitting  to  the  wishes  of  the 
girl  with  the  docility  of  a  child. 

"  I  feel,  Deerslayer,"  she  resumed,  "though  I  couldn't 
tell  why  —  but  I  feel  that  you  and  I  are  not  going  to  part 
forever.  'T  is  a  strange  feeling !  I  never  had  it  before ; 
I  wonder  what  it  comes  from  !  ' ' 

'  'T  is  God  encouraging  you  in  extremity,  Hetty  ;  as 
such  it  ought  to  be  harbored  and  respected.  Yes,  we  shall 
meet  agin,  though  it  may  be  a  long  time  first,  and  in  a  far 
distant  land." 

('  Do  you  mean  to  be  buried  in  the  lake,  too  ?  If  so, 
that  may  account  for  the  feeling." 


362  THE  DEERSLAYER 

1  'T  is  little  likely,  gal ;  't  is  little  likely  ;  but  there  's  a 
region  for  Christian  souls  where  there  's  no  lakes  nor 
woods,  they  say ;  though  why  there  should  be  none  of  the 
last  is  more  than  I  can  account  for  ;  seeing  that  pleasant 
ness  and  peace  is  the  object  in  view.  My  grave  will  be 
found  in  the  forest,  most  likely,  but  I  hope  my  spirit  will 
not  be  far  from  your'n." 

"  So  it  must  be,  then.  I  am  too  weak-minded  to  under 
stand  these  things,  but  I  feel  that  you  and  I  will  meet 
again.  Sister,  where  are  you  ?  I  can't  see  now  anything 
but  darkness.  It  must  be  night,  surely  !  " 

"  Oh  Hetty,  I  am  here  at  your  side  ;  these  are  my  arms 
that  are  round  you,"  sobbed  Judith.  "  Speak,  dearest;  is 
there  anything  you  wish  to  say,  or  have  done,  in  this  awful 
moment  ? ' ' 

By  this  time  Hetty's  sight  had  entirely  failed  her. 
Nevertheless,  death  approached  with  less  than  usual  of  its 
horrors,  as  if  in  tenderness  to  one  of  her  half-endowed 
faculties.  She  was  pale  as  a  corpse,  but  her  breathing  was 
easy  and  unbroken,  while  her  voice,  though  lowered  almost 
to  a  whisper,  remained  clear  and  distinct.  When  her  sister 
put  this  question,  she  roused  herself  a  little,  and  Judith, 
thinking  she  understood  her  wish,  bent  nearer. 

"  Hurry  is  here,  dearest  Hetty,"  whispered  the  sister. 
"  Shall  I  tell  him  to  come  and  receive  your  good  wishes  ?  " 

A  gentle  pressure  of  the  hand  answered  in  the  affirma 
tive,  —  and  then  Hurry  was  brought  to  the  side  of  the 
pallet.  It  is  probable  that  this  handsome  but  rude  woods 
man  had  never  before  found  himself  so  awkwardly  placed. 
He  allowed  Judith  to  put  his  big  hard  hand  between  those 
of  Hetty,  and  stood  waiting  the  result  in  awkward  silence. 


THE  DELIVERANCE  363 

11  This  is  Hurry,  dearest,"  whispered  Judith,  bending 
over  her  sister;  "speak  to  him,  and  let  him  go." 

"  Good-by,  Hurry,"  murmured  the  girl;  with  a  gentle 
pressure  of  his  hand.  "  I  wish  you  would  try  and  be  more 
like  Deerslayer." 

These  words  were  uttered  with  difficulty ;  a  faint  flush 
succeeded  them  for  a  single  instant,  then  the  hand  was 
relinquished,  and  Hetty  turned  her  face  aside  as  if  done 
with  the  world. 

"Of  what  are  you  thinking,  my  sweet  sister?  "  whis 
pered  Judith.  "  Tell  me,  that  I  may  aid  you  at  this 
moment." 

"  Mother  —  I  see  mother,  now,  and  bright  beings 
around  her  in  the  lake.  Why  is  n't  father  there  ?  It 's  odd 
that  I  can  see  mother  when  I  can't  see  you  !  Farewell, 
Judith." 

The  last  words  were  uttered  after  a  pause,  and  her 
sister  had  hung  over  her  some  time,  in  anxious  watchful 
ness,  before  she  perceived  that  the  gentle  spirit  had  de 
parted.  Thus  died  Hetty  H utter,  one  of  those  mysterious 
links  between  the  material  and  immaterial  world,  which, 
while  they  appear  to  be  deprived  of  so  much  that  is 
esteemed  and  necessary  for  this  state  of  being,  draw  so 
near  to,  and  offer  so  beautiful  an  illustration  of,  the  truth, 
purity,  and  simplicity  of  another. 

CHAPTER  VI 

The  day  that  followed  proved  to  be  melancholy,  though 
one  of  much  activity.  The  soldiers,  who  had  so  lately  been 
employed  in  interring  their  victims,  were  now  called  on  to 


364  THE  DEERSLAYER 

bury  their  own  dead.  Hour  dragged  on  after  hour  until 
evening  arrived,  and  then  came  the  last  melancholy  offices 
in  honor  of  poor  Hetty  Hutter.  Her  body  was  laid  in  the 
lake  by  the  side  of  that  of  the  mother  she  had  so  loved 
and  reverenced  ;  and  the  simple  rites  of  Christian  burial 
were  performed  by  the  officer  in  command.  The  tears  of 
Judith  and  Hist  were  shed  freely,  and  Deerslayer  gazed 
upon  the  limpid  water,  that  now  flowed  over  one  whose 
spirit  was  even  purer  than  its  own  mountain  springs,  with 
glistening  eyes,  Even  the  Delaware  turned  aside  to  con 
ceal  his  weakness,  while  the  common  men  gazed  on  the 
ceremony  with  wondering  eyes  and  chastened  feelings. 

The  business  of  the  day  closed  with  this  pious  office. 
It  was  intended  to  begin  the  march  homewards  with  the 
return  of  light.  One  party  indeed,  bearing  the  wounded, 
the  prisoners,  and  the  trophies,  had  left  the  castle  in  the 
middle  of  the  day,  under  the  guidance  of  Hurry,  intending 
to  reach  the  fort  by  shorter  marches.  The  rattling  of  the 
drum  broke  the  silence  of  the  tranquil  lake  as  soon  as 
the  ceremony  was  over,  and  one  solitary  sentinel  paced  the 
platform  throughout  the  night. 

With  the  morning  the  party  began  its  movement 
towards  the  shore.  The  soldiers  embarked  in  the  ark,  and 
by  the  wish  of  Judith,  Chingachgook  and  Deerslayer  were 
left  to  take  the  two  girls  ashore  in  the  canoes.  Judith  had 
held  no  communication  with  anyone  but  Hist,  after  the 
death  of  her  sister,  and  all  had  respected  her  sorrow.  Now 
Hist  entered  one  canoe,  where  the  Delaware  immediately 
joined  her,  and  paddled  away,  leaving  Judith  standing 
alone  on  the  platform.  Owing  to  this  prompt  proceeding 
Deerslayer  found  himself  alone  with  the  beautiful  and 


THE  DELIVERANCE  365 

still  weeping  mourner.  The  young  man  swept  the  light 
boat  round,  and  received  its  mistress  in  it,  when  he 
followed  the  course  already  taken  by  his  friend. 

The  direction  to  the  point  led  diagonally  past,  and  at  no 
great  distance  from,  the  graves  of  the  dead.  As  the  canoe 
glided  by,  Judith,  for  the  first  time  that  morning,  spoke 
to  her  companion.  She  said  but  little,  —  merely  uttering 
a  simple  request  to  stop  for  a  minute  or  two,  ere  she  left 
the  place. 

"  I  may  never  see  this  spot  again,  Deerslayer,"  she  said, 
"  and  it  contains  the  bodies  of  my  mother  and  sister  !  " 

The  girl  gazed  a  minute  in  silent  attention ;  then  she 
turned  her  eyes  backward,  at  the  castle. 

"This  lake  will  soon  be  entirely  deserted,"  she  said, 
"  and  this,  too,  at  a  moment  when  it  will  be  a  more  secure 
dwelling-place  than  ever.  What  has  so  lately  happened 
will  prevent  the  Iroquois  from  venturing  again  to  visit  it 
for  a  long  time  to  come." 

"  That  it  will !  — yes,  that  may  be  set  down  as  settled. 
I  do  not  mean  to  pass  this-a-way  agin,  so  long  as  the  war 
lasts ;  for,  to  my  mind,  no  Huron  moccasin  will  leave  its 
print  on  the  leaves  of  this  forest,  until  their  traditions  have 
forgotten  to  tell  their  young  men  of  their  disgrace  and 
rout." 

"  Deerslayer,"  said  Judith,  after  a  considerable  pause, 
her  cheeks  flushed  and  her  eyes  lighted  with  some  of  their 
former  brilliancy,  "this  is  not  a  moment  for  affectation, 
deception,  or  a  want  of  frankness  of  any  sort.  Here,  over 
my  mother's  grave,  and  over  the  grave  of  truth-loving, 
truth-telling  Hetty,  everything  like  unfair  dealing  seems 
to  be  out  of  place.  I  will  therefore  speak  to  you  without 


366  THE  DEERSLAYER 

any  reserve,  and  without  any  dread  of  being  misunderstood. 
You  are  an  acquaintance  (oljiQtJILJweeK)  but  it  appears  to 
me  as  if  I  had  known  you  for  years.  So  much,  and  so 
much  that  is  important,  has  taken  place  within  that  short 
time,  that  the  sorrows,  and  dangers,  and  escapes  of  a  whole 
life  have  been  crowded  into  a  few  days  ;  and  they  who 
have  suffered  and  acted  together  in  such  scenes  ought  not 
to  feel  like  strangers.  I  know  that  what  I  am  about  to  say 
might  be  misunderstood  by  most  men,  but  I  hope  for  a 
generous  construction  of  my  course  from  you.  We  are 
not  here  dwelling  among  the  arts  and  deceptions  of  the 
settlements,  but  young  people  who  have  no  occasion  to  de 
ceive  each  other,  in  any  manner  or  form.  I  hope  I  make 
myself  understood  ?  " 

"  Sartain,  Judith  ;  few  convarse  better  than  yourself, 
and  none  more  agreeable-like.  Your  words  are  as  pleas 
ant  as  your  looks." 

"  Still,  Deerslayer,  it  is  not  easy  for  one  of  my  sex  and 
years  to  forget  all  her  lessons  of  infancy,  all  her  hab 
its,  and  her  natural  diffidence,  and  say  openly  what  her 
heart  feels !  " 

"  Why  not,  Judith  ?  Why  should  n't  women  as  well  as 
men  deal  fairly  and  honestly  by  their  fellow-creatur's  ?  I 
see  no  reason  why  you  should  not  speak  as  plainly  as  my 
self,  when  there  is  anything  raally  important  to  be  said." 

"  I  will  —  I  must  deal  as  plainly  with  you,  as  I  would 
with  poor,  dear  Hetty,  were  that  sweet  child  living !  "  she 
continued,  turning  pale  ;  "  yes,  I  will  smother  all  other 
feelings,  in  the  one  that  is  now  uppermost !  You  love  the 
woods  and  the  life  that  we  pass,  here,  in  the  wilderness, 
away  from  the  dwellings  and  towns  of  the  whites." 


THE  DELIVERANCE  367 

"  As  I  loved  my  parents,  Judith,  when  they  was  living ! 
This  very  spot  would  be  all  creation  to  me,  could  this  war 
be  fairly  over,  once,  and  the  settlers  kept  at  a  distance." 

"  Why  quit  it,  then  ?  It  has  no  owner  —  at  least  none 
who  can  claim  a  better  right  than  mine,  and  that  I  freely 
give  to  you.  Were  it  a  kingdom,  Deerslayer,  I  think  I 
should  delight  to  say  the  same.  Let  us  then  return  to  it, 
after  we  have  seen  the  priest  at  the  fort,  and  never  quit  it 
again,  until  God  calls  us  away  to  that  world  where  we  shall 
find  the  spirits  of  my  poor  mother  and  sister." 

A  long,  thoughtful  pause  succeeded  ;  Judith  having 
covered  her  face  with  both  her  hands,  after  forcing  herself 
to  utter  so  plain  a  proposal,  and  Deerslayer  musing  equally 
in  sorrow  and  surprise,  on  the  meaning  of  the  language 
he  had  just  heard.  At  length  the  hunter  broke  the  silence, 
speaking  in  a  tone  that  was  softened  to  gentleness  by  his 
desire  not  to  offend. 

"You  have  n't  thought  well  of  this,  Judith,"  he  said  ; 
"  no,  your  feelin's  are  awakened  by  all  that  has  lately  hap 
pened,  and  believin'  yourself  to  be  without  kindred  in  the 
world,  you  are  in  too  great  haste  to  find  some  to  fill  the 
places  of  them  that 's  lost." 

"  Were  I  living  in  a  crowd  of  friends,  Deerslayer,  I 
should  still  think  as  I  now  think,  —  say  as  I  now  say," 
returned  Judith,  speaking  with  her  hands  still  shading  her 
lovely  face. 

"Thank  you,  gal  —  thank  you  from  the  bottom  of  my 
heart.  Hows'ever,  I  am  not  one  to  take  advantage  of  a 
weak  moment,  when  you  're  forgetful  of  your  own  great  ad 
vantages,  and  fancy  'arth  and  all  it  holds  is  in  this  little 
canoe.  No  —  no  —  Judith,  'twould  be  onginerous  in  me; 


368  THE  DEERSLAYER 

what  you  've  offered  can  never  come  to  pass  !  Forget  it 
all,  therefore,  and  let  us  paddle  after  the  Sarpent  and 
Hist,  as  if  nothing  had  been  said  on  the  subject." 

Judith  was  deeply  mortified,  and  what  is  more,  she  was 
profoundly  grieved.  Still  there  was  a  steadiness  and  quiet 
in  the  manner  of  Deerslayer  that  calmed  her. 

"  God  forbid  that  we  lay  up  regrets  in  after-life,  through 
any  want  of  sincerity  now,"  she  said.  "  I  hope  we  under 
stand  each  other  at  least.  You  will  not  accept  me  for  a 
wife,  Deerslayer  ?  " 

'  'T  is  better  for  both  that  I  should  n't  take  advantage 
of  your  own  forgetfulness,  Judith.  We  can  never  marry." 

"You  do  not  love  me, — cannot  find  it  in  your  heart, 
perhaps,  to  esteem  me,  Deerslayer  ?  " 

"  Everything  in  the  way  of  fri'ndship,  Judith — every 
thing,  even  to  sarvices  and  life  itself.  Yes,  I  'd  risk  as 
much  for  you,  at  this  moment,  as  I  would  risk  in  behalf 
of  Hist ;  and  that  is  say  in'  as  much  as  I  can  say  of  any 
darter  of  woman.  I  do  not  think  I  feel  towards  either 
—  mind  I  say  either ;  Judith  —  as  if  I  wished  to  quit 
father  and  mother  —  if  father  and  mother  was  livin' ; 
which,  however,  neither  is  —  but  if  both  was  livin',  I  do 
not  feel  towards  any  woman  as  if  I  wish'd  to  quit  'em 
in  order  to  cleave  unto  her" 

"  This  is  enough  !  "  answered  Judith,  in  a  rebuked  and 
smothered  voice  ;  "I  understand  all  that  you  mean.  Marry 
you  cannot,  without  loving ;  and  that  love  you  do  not  feel 
for  me.  Make  no  answer  if  I  am  right,  for  I  shall  under 
stand  your  silence.  That  will  be  painful  enough  of 
itself." 

Deerslayer  obeyed  her,  and  he  made  no  reply.    For  more 


THE  DELIVERANCE  369 

than  a  minute  the  girl  waited.  Then  she  dropped  the  end 
of  her  paddle,  and  urged  the  canoe  away  from  the  spot. 
Deerslayer  quietly  aided  the  effort,  and  they  were  soon  on 
the  trackless  line  taken  by  the  Delaware. 

In  their  way  to  the  point,  not  another  syllable  was  ex 
changed  between  Deerslayer  and  his  fair  companion.  As 
neither  labored  hard  at  the  paddle,  the  ark  had  already 
arrived  and  the  soldiers  had  disembarked  before  the 
canoe  of  the  two  loiterers  reached  the  point.  Chingach- 
gook  had  preceded  it,  and  was  already  some  distance  in 
the  wood,  at  a  spot  where  the  two  trails,  that  to  the  garri 
son  and  that  to  the  villages  of  the  Dela wares,  separated. 
The  soldiers,  too,  had  taken  up  their  line  of  march,  first 
setting  the  ark  adrift  again.  All  this  Judith  saw,  but  she 
heeded  it  not.  The  Glimmerglass  had  no  longer  any 
charms  for  her  ;  and  when  she  put  her  foot  on  the  strand, 
she  immediately  proceeded  on  the  trail  of  the  soldiers. 
Deerslayer  would  have  escorted  her  to  the  soldiers,  but 
when  he  had  proceeded  a  hundred  yards,  she  stopped. 

"  This  will  do,  Deerslayer,"  she  said,  sadly.  "  I  under 
stand  your  kindness,  but  shall  not  need  it.  In  a  few 
minutes  I  shall  reach  the  soldiers.  As  you  cannot  go  with 
me  on  the  journey  of  life,  I  do  not  wish  you  to  go  further 
on  this.  Farewell,  and  may  all  good  fortune  attend  you,  as 
you  deserve  that  it  shall." 

With  a  gesture  of  adieu  she  signed  to  him  to  return, 
and  buried  herself  in  the  woods.  For  some  time 
Deerslayer  was  irresolute  as  to  his  course  ;  but  in  the 
end,  he  retraced  his  steps  and  joined  the  Delaware. 
That  night,  the  three  "  camped  "  on  the  head-waters  of 
their  own  river,  and  the  succeeding  evening  they  entered 


370  THE  DEERSLAYER 

the  village  of  the  tribe  —  Chingachgook  and  his  betrothed 
in  triumph  ;  their  companion  honored  and  admired,  but 
in  a  sorrow  that  it  required  months  of  activity  to  remove. 

EPILOGUE 

Fifteen  years  had  passed  away  ere  it  was  in  the  power 
of  Deerslayer,  or  Hawkeye,  as  he  was  then  universally 
called,  to  revisit  the  Glimmerglass.  In  the  war  that  had 
had  its  rise  at  the  time  of  our  narrative,  his  fame  had 
spread  far  and  near,  until  the  crack  of  his  rifle  became  as 
terrible  to  the  ears  of  the  Mingos  as  the  thunders  of  the 
Manitou.  The  Delaware  chief,  too,  had  risen  among  his 
people,  until  his  name  was  never  mentioned  without  eulo- 
giums ;  while  another  Uncas,  the  last  of  his  race,  was 
added  to  the  long  line  of  warriors  who  bore  that  distin 
guished  appelation. 

A  long  peace  had  intervened,  and  now  it  was  on  the 
eve  of  another,  and  still  more  important  war,  when  he  and 
his  constant  friend,  Chingachgook,  were  hastening  to  the 
forts  to  join  their  allies.  They  reached  the  lake  just  as  the 
sun  was  setting.  Here  all  was  unchanged  ;  the  river  still 
rushed  through  its  bower  of  trees  ;  the  little  rock  was  wast 
ing  away  by  the  slow  action  of  the  waves  in  the  course  of 
centuries  ;  the  mountains  stood  in  their  native  dress,  dark, 
rich,  and  mysterious  ;  while  the  sheet  glistened  in  its  soli 
tude,  a  beautiful  gem  of  the  forest. 

The  following  morning  they  discovered  one  of  the 
canoes  drifted  on  the  shore,  in  a  state  of  decay.  A  little 
labor  put  it  in  a  state  for  service,  and  they  embarked,  with 
a  desire  to  examine  the  remains  of  the  castle  which  were 


EPILOGUE 


371 


still  visible,  a  picturesque  ruin.  The  storms  of  winter  had 
long  since  unroofed  the  house,  and  decay  had  eaten  into 
the  logs.  All  the  fastenings  were  untouched,  but  the  sea 
sons  rioted  in  the  place,  as  if  in  mockery  at  the  attempt 
to  exclude  them.  The  palisades  were  rotting,  as  were  the 
piles ;  and  it  was  evident  that  a  few  more  recurrences  of 
winter,  a  few  more  gales  and  tempests,  would  sweep  all 
into  the  lake,  and  blot  the  building  from  the  face  of  that 
magnificent  solitude.  The  graves  could  not  be  found. 
Either  the  elements  had  obliterated  their  traces,  or  time  had 
caused  those  who  looked  for  them  to  forget  their  position. 
The  ark  was  discovered  stranded  on  the  eastern  shore, 
where  it  had  long  before  been  driven,  with  the  prevalent 
northwest  winds.  It  lay  on  the  sandy  extremity  of  a  long, 
low  point,  that  was  situated  about  two  miles  from  the  out 
let,  and  which  was  itself  fast  disappearing  before  the  action 
of  the  elements.  The  scow  was  filled  with  water,  the  cabin 
unroofed,  and  the  logs  were  decaying.  Some  of  its  coarser 
furniture  still  remained,  and  the  heart  of  Deerslayer  beat 
quick  as  he  found  a  ribbon  of  Judith's  fluttering  from  a 
log.  Although  the  girl  had  never  touched  his  heart,  the 
Hawkeye,  for  so  we  ought  now  to  call  him;  still  retained 
a  kind  and  sincere  interest  in  her  welfare-.  It  had  been 
many  years  after  their  parting  by  the  lake  shore  before 
Hawkeye  visited  the  garrison.  There  he  had  made  many 
inquiries,  but  had  been  unable  to  get  any  news  of  Judith. 
None  knew  her  ;  after  the  lapse  of  years  even  her  person 
was  no  longer  remembered  in  the  rapidly  changing  popula 
tion  of  the  frontier  fort.  Now  he  tore  away  the  ribbon 
and  knotted  it  to  the  stock  of  Killdeer,  which  had  been 
the  gift  of  the  girl  herself. 


P.        oA 

"3    \ 


372  THE  DEERSLAYER 

A  few  miles  further  up  the  lake  another  of  the  canoes 
was  discovered ;  and  on  the  point  where  the  party  finally 
landed  were  found  those  which  had  been  left  there  upon 
the  shore.  That  in  which  the  present  navigation  was 
made,  and  the  one  discovered  on  the  eastern  shore,  had 
dropped  through  the  decayed  floor  of  the  castle,  drifted 
past  the  falling  palisades,  and  had  been  thrown  as  waifs 
upon  the  beach. 

From  all  these  signs,  it  was  probable  the  lake  had  not 
been  visited  since  the  occurrence  of  the  final  scene  of  our 
tale.  Accident  or  tradition  had  rendered  it  again  a  spot 
sacred  to  nature  ;  the  frequent  wars,  and  the  feeble  popu 
lation  of  the  colonies,  still  confining  the  settlements  within 
narrow  boundaries.  Chingachgook  and  his  friend  left  the 
spot  with  melancholy  feelings.  It  had  been  the  region  of 
their  First  War- Path,  and  it  carried  back  the  minds  of 
both  to  scenes  of  tenderness  as  well  as  to  hours  of  tri 
umph.  They  held  their  way  towards  the  Mohawk  in  si 
lence,  however,  to  rush  into  new  adventures,  as  stirring 
and  as  remarkable  as  those  which  had  attended  their 
opening  career  on  this  lovely  lake. 


^    TV 


APPENDIX 


EXTRACTS  FROM  COOPER'S  PREFACES 

In  this  book  the  hero  is  represented  as  just  arriving  at  manhood, 
with  the  freshness  of  feeling  that  belongs  to  that  interesting  period 
of  life,  and  with  the  power  to  please  that  properly  characterizes 
youth.  As  a  consequence,  he  is  loved;  and,  what  denotes  the  real 
waywardness  of  humanity,  more  than  it  corresponds  with  theories  and 
moral  propositions,  perhaps,  he  is  loved  by  one  full  of  art,  vanity, 
and  weakness,  and  loved  principally  for  his  sincerity,  his  modesty, 
and  his  unerring  truth  and  probity.  The  preference  he  gives  to  the 
high  qualities  named,  over  beauty,  delirious  passion,  and  sin,  it  is 
hoped,  will  offer  a  lesson  that  can  injure  none.  This  portion  of  the 
book  is  intentionally  kept  down,  though  it  is  thought  to  be  sufficiently 
distinct  to  convey  its  moral. 

The  intention  has  been  to  put  the  sisters  in  strong  contrast  ;  one, 
admirable  in  person,  clever,  filled  with  the  pride  of  beauty,  erring, 
and  fallen  ;  the  other,  barely  provided  with  sufficient  capacity  to 
know  good  from  evil,  instinct,  notwithstanding,  with  the  virtues  of 
woman,  reverencing  and  loving  God,  and  yielding  only  to  the  weak 
ness  of  her  sex,  in  admiring  personal  attractions  in  one  too  coarse 
and  unobservant  to  distinguish  or  to  understand  her  quiet,  gentle 
feeling  in  his  favor. 

As  for  the  scene  of  this  tale,  it  is  intended  for,  and  believed  to  be, 
a  close  description  of  the  Otsego,  prior  to  the  year  1  760,  when  the 
first  rude  settlement  was  commenced  on  its  banks,  at  that  time  only 
an  insignificant  clearing  near  the  outlet,  with  a  small  hut  of  squared 
logs,  for  the  temporary  dwelling  of  the  Deputy  Superintendent  of 
Indian  affairs.  The  recollections  of  the  writer  carry  him  back  dis 
tinctly  to  a  time  when  nine-tenths  of  the  shores  of  this  lake  were  in 

373 


374  THE  DEERSLAYER 

the  virgin  forest,  a  peculiarity  that  was  owing  to  the  circumstance 
of  the  rokds  running  through  the  first  range  of  valleys  removed  from 
the  water  side.  The  woods  and  the  mountains  haye  ever  formed  a 
principal  source  of  beauty  with  this  charming  sheet  of  water,  enough 
of  the  former  remaining  to  this  day  to  relieve  the  open  grounds  from 
monotony  and  tameness. 

In  most  respects  the  descriptions  of  scenery  in  the  tale  are  reason 
ably  accurate.  The  rock  appointed  for  the  rendezvous  between  the 
Deerslayer  and  his  friend  the  Delaware  still  remains,  bearing  the 
name  of  the  Otsego  Rock.  The  shoal  on  which  H utter  is  represented 
as  having  built  his  "  castle  "  is  a  little  misplaced,  lying,  in  fact,  nearer 
to  the  northern  end  of  the  lake,  as  well  as  to  the  eastern  shore,  than 
is  stated  in  this  book.  Such  a  shoal,  however,  exists,  surrounded  on 
all  sides  by  deep  water.  In  the  dryest  season  a  few  rocks  are  seen 
above  the  surface  of  the  lake,  and  rushes,  at  most  periods  of  the 
year,  mark  its  locality.  In  a  word,  in  all  but  precise  position,  even 
this  feature  of  the  book  is  accurate.  The  same  is  true  of  the  several 
points  introduced,  —  of  the  bay,  of  the  river,  of  the  mountains,  and 
of  all  the  other  accessories  of  the  place.  The  legend  is  purely  fiction, 
no  authority  existing  for  any  of  its  facts,  characters,  or  other  pecu 
liarities,  beyond  that  which  was  thought  necessary  to  secure  the 
semblance  of  reality. 

The  author  has  often  been  asked  if  he  had  any  original  in  his 
mind  for  the  character  of  Leatherstocking.  In  a  physical  sense, 
different  individuals  known  to  the  writer  in  early  life  certainly  pre 
sented  themselves  as  models,  through  his  recollections;  but  in  a 
moral  sense  this  man  of  the  forest  is  purely  a  creation.  The  idea  of 
delineating  a  character  that  possessed  little  of  civilization  but  its 
highest  principles  as  they  are  exhibited  in  the  uneducated,  and  all  of 
savage  life  that  is  not  incompatible  with  these  great  rules  of  conduct, 
is  perhaps  natural  to  the  situation  in  which  Natty  was  placed.  He 
is  too  proud  of  his  origin  to  sink  into  the  condition  of  the  wild 
Indian,  and  too  much  a  man  of  the  woods  not  to  imbibe  as  much  as 
was  at  all  desirable,  from  his  friends  and  companions.  In  a  moral 
point  of  view  it  was  the  intention  to  illustrate  the  effect  of  seed  scat 
tered  by  the  wayside.  To  use  his  own  language,  his  "  gifts  "  were 
ft  white  gifts,"  and  he  was  not  disposed  to  bring  on  them  discredit. 


APPENDIX  375 

On  the  other  hand,  removed  from  nearly  all  the  temptations  of  civi 
lized  life,  placed  in  the  best  associations  of  that  which  is  deemed  sav 
age,  and  favorably  disposed  by  nature  to  improve  such  advantages, 
it  appeared  to  the  writer  that  his  hero  was  a  fit  subject  to  represent 
the  better  qualities  of  both  conditions,  without  pushing  either  to 
extremes. 

A  leading  character  in  a  work  of  fiction  has  a  fair  right  to  the  aid 
which  can  be  obtained  from  a  poetical  view  of  the  subject.  It  is  in 
this  view,  rather  than  in  one  more  strictly  circumstantial,  that 
Leatherstocking  has  been  drawn.  The  imagination  has  no  great 
task  in  portraying  to  itself  a  being  removed  from  the  every-day 
inducements  to  err,  which  abound  in  civilized  life,  while  he  retains 
the  best  and  simplest  of  his  early  impressions ;  who  sees  God  in  the 
forest ;  hears  Him  in  the  winds ;  bows  to  Him  in  the  firmament 
that  o'ercanopies  all ;  submits  to  his  sway  in  a  humble  belief  of  his 
justice  and  mercy ;  in  a  word,  a  being  who  finds  the  impress  of  the 
Deity  in  all  the  works  of  nature,  without  any  of  the  blots  produced 
by  the  expedients,  and  passions,  and  mistakes  of  man.  This  is  the 
most  that  has  been  attempted  in  the  character  of  Leatherstocking. 
Had  this  been  done  without  any  of  the  drawbacks  of  humanity,  the 
picture  would  have  been,  in  all  probability,  more  pleasing  than  just. 
In  order  to  preserve  the  vrai-semblable,  therefore,  traits  derived 
from  the  prejudices,  tastes,  and  even  the  weaknesses  of  his  youth, 
have  been  mixed  up  with  these  higher  qualities  and  longings,  in  a 
way,  it  is  hoped,  to  represent  a  reasonable  picture  of  human  nature, 
without  offering  to  the  spectator  a  "  monster  of  goodness." 

It  has  been  objected  to  these  books  that  they  give  a  more  favor 
able  picture  of  the  red-man  than  he  deserves.  It  is  the  privilege  of 
all  writers  of  fiction,  more  particularly  when  their  works  aspire  to  the 
elevation  of  romances,  to  present  the  beau-ideal  of  their  characters 
to  the  reader.  This  it  is  which  constitutes  poetry,  and  to  suppose 
that  the  red-man  is  to  be  represented  only  in  the  squalid  misery  or 
in  the  degraded  moral  state  that  certainly  more  or  less  belongs 
to  his  condition,  is,  we  apprehend,  taking  a  very  narrow  view  of  an 
author's  privileges.  Such  criticism  would  have  deprived  the  world 
of  even  Homer. 


376  THE  DEERSLAYER 

II 

IMPORTANT  DATES  IN  COOPER'S  LIFE 

Born  at  Burlington,  New  Jersey,  September  15,  1789. 

Family  settled  in  Cooperstown,  New  York,  in  1 790,  his  childhood 
thus  being  passed  on  the  shores  of  the  beautiful  Otsego  Lake,  which 
is  the  scene  of  our  story. 

Entered  Yale  College  in  1802. 

Spent  the  years  from  1 806  to  1 8 1 1  at  sea,  which  accounts  for  his 
nautical  interest,  shown  in  his  descriptions  of  the  ark  and  the  castle. 

Wrote  "The  Deerslayer  "  in  1841. 

Died  at  Cooperstown,  September  14,  1851. 

Ill 

THE  PLOT  OF  "THE  DEERSLAYER" 

As  has  been  indicated  in  the  Preface,  this  novel  lends  itself  to  a 
most  rewarding  plot  study,  especially  in  this  simplified  form.  Of  the 
three  unities  of  time  and  place  and  action,  Cooper  observed  each 
with  sufficient  care,  but  was  particularly  zealous  for  an  accurate  basis 
of  time.  In  order  to  bring  this  out  more  clearly  the  following  analy 
sis  of  the  plot  from  the  point  of  view  of  the  time  occupied  and  the 
exact  manner  in  which  it  was  spent,  has  been  prepared.  Unity  of 
scene  is  also  adhered  to,  the  lake  with  its  two  dwellings,  the  shore, 
and  the  Indian  camp  being  the  only  places  between  which  the  action 
shifts. 

To  study  the  unity  of  the  action,  which  is  as  carefully  worked  out, 
if  not  as  concise,  as  in  any  modern  drama,  the  reader  should  make  a 
brief  synopsis  of  each  of  the  six  parts.  Shorn  of  conversations  and 
of  incidents  which  contribute  to  the  exposition  of  character  but  not 
to  the  progress  of  the  story,  —  such  as  Judith's  discovery  that  Hutter 
is  not  her  real  father,  —  the  framework  will  stand  out  as  plainly  as 
that  of  a  peaked  house,  with  its  ascending  action  until  the  climax, 


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